CO2 residence time said to be 40 years, not 1000 per previous claims

Readers may recall claims of 1000 year residence times for CO2. This essay suggests a much shorter interval. -Anthony


CO2-molecule

Guest essay by Ari Halperin

Surplus CO2 is removed from the atmosphere by natural sinks at a rate proportional to the surplus CO2 concentration.  The half-life of the surplus CO2 concentration is approximately 40 years.  This is the conclusion of my research paper, published on defyccc.com today. 

I am grateful to Prof. Fred Singer and Prof. William Happer for their help in writing this paper.

The correct (although approximate) formula for CO2 concentration leads to a number of conclusions of public interest:

  • CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will increase much slower than has been claimed by the IPCC.
  • A relatively small part of the anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere has been released by the US; a relatively large part of the anthropogenic CO2 has been released by China.
  • If stabilizing or decreasing atmospheric CO2 content becomes desirable at some point in the future, that can be achieved by decreasing anthropogenic CO2 release at that time; no premature action is needed.
  • The warming effect of anthropogenic CO2 is less than the warming effect of other gases and aerosols (according to IPCC calculations) in both the short and long term, so what are the motives behind this laser focus on CO2?

 

The topic of the CO2 removal rate has been discussed a number of times on WUWT (by Christopher Monckton of Brenchley, Docmartyn in comments on Dr. Lindzen’s article, Anthony Watts and others), and various opinions were expressed.  Estimates of the half-life varied.

For some time, the subject was surrounded by confusion, created by sloppy definitions and evasive statements in IPCC assessment reports.  There was a mix-up between the residence time of a CO2 molecule in the atmosphere and the rate of change of the surplus CO2 concentration.  The residence time (~5 years) is of little interest, except as an indication of quick carbon turnaround.  The true subject of interest is the rate of change of the surplus carbon concentration in the atmosphere.  Another issue was the link between CO2 concentration and temperature.  On the geological timescale, the rise in CO2 concentration tends to follow the temperature rise, concurring with a hypothesis that the latter causes the former.  Nevertheless, such an effect is not significant on the multi-decadal scale.  CO2 concentration in the atmosphere grows mostly because of anthropogenic release of CO2 through fossil fuels combustion and land use changes.

The paper’s full title is Simple Equation of Multi-Decadal Atmospheric Carbon Concentration Change.  It is article-length (~5,000 words, not counting references), citable, and discoverable by search engines, including the Climate Sanity and Freedom Search.  In a slight departure from a widely-used academic format, the paper contains a Summary (for busy readers).  The abstract is as follows.

 

Surplus CO2 is removed from the atmosphere by natural sinks at rate, proportional to the surplus CO2 concentration. In other words, it undergoes exponential decay with a single decay constant. This conclusion is rigorously proven, using first principles and relatively recent observations of oceans. Historical data for CO2 concentrations and emissions from 1958–2013 are then used to calculate the half-life of the surplus concentration. This theoretically derived formula is found to be an excellent match to the historical CO2 concentrations over the measurement period. Furthermore, the “initial” CO2 concentration in the formula came out to be very close to the likely “pre-industrial” CO2 concentration. Based on the used datasets, the half-life of the surplus concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is found to be approximately 40 years.

 

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267 thoughts on “CO2 residence time said to be 40 years, not 1000 per previous claims

  1. If you work the numbers on IPCC AR5 Figure 6.1 you will discover that anthro C is partitioned 57/43 between natural sequestration and atmospheric retention. (555 – 240 = 315 PgC & 240/555) IMO this arbitrary partition was “assumed” in order to “prove” (i.e. make the numbers work) that anthro C was solely/90% responsible for the 112 ppmv atmos CO2 increase between 1750 – 2011. C is not CO2.

    PgC * 3.67 = PgCO2 * 0.1291 = ppmv atmospheric CO2
    IPCC AR5 Figure 6.1
    …………………………………….PgC/y……ppmv/y
    FF & Land Use Source…….8.9……….4.22
    Ocean & Land Sink…………4.9……… 2.32
    Net Source.……………….…..4.0……….1.90

    If the anthro 8.9 Pg C/y (4.2 ppmv CO2/y) suddenly vanishes the natural cycle that remains would be a constant sink of 2.3 ppmv CO2/y. Reverse extrapolation (GCMs & RCPs apply forward extrapolation) calculates that 121 years in the past (278 ppmv CO2/2.3 ppmv CO2) or the year 1629 (1750-121) atmos CO2 would have been 0, zero, nadda, zip, nowhere to be found.

    Oh, what a tangled web they wove!

    The 8.9 Pg of anthro C simply vanishes in earth’s 45,000 plus Pg C cauldron of stores and fluxes. Mankind’s egoistic, egocentric, conceit means less than nothing to the earth, the solar system and the universe.

    • Slam-dunk, Nicholas Schroeder!

      Schroeder 1
      IPCC 0 (nada, zip!)

      (times in brackets from below-posted video)

      [36:34] Native Source of CO2 – 150 (96%) gigatons/yr — Human CO2 – 5 (4%) gtons/yr
      (i.e., native = 2 orders of magnitude greater than human)

      [37:01] Native Sinks Approximately* Balance Native Sources – net CO2

      *Approximately = even a small imbalance can overwhelm any human CO2.

      Source: Dr. Murry Salby, Hamburg, April, 2013

      (youtube)

      • lol, Ha! So… you have not always been called “Marcus,” then, have you? Unless you were silent all those 2 years… . (smile) 8 times, eh? Well, what do you know…. Your memory is phenomenal!

      • Don’t worry, “Marcus,” I do not know who you are. There is someone I WISH you were, you sound like him to me, sometimes…… but, I will never say that name, in case remaining incognito is vitally important.

      • Janice, you could post that lecture once a week and I will still watch it; pure entertainment in the best possible way.

        Salby’s employment at Macquarie was terminated in 2013; his return ticket from Paris was cancelled by Macquarie, stranding Salby in Europe. Macquarie University stated that he was not dismissed because of his views on climate change… Wikipedia no less

      • Love that quote of yours, Robert (of Ottawa)! lol — did ANYONE believe MacQ? Poseurs claimed to, but, for crying out loud, what BAD l1ars they were (and no doubt, are)! lololol (and then, remembering a very weary, betrayed, professor, I am no longer laughing….. what Dr. Salby endured–was–horrible)

      • Very interesting presentation by Prof. Murry Salby, thanks for the post! He says that CO2 emissions are due to the INTEGRAL of temperature and not to temperature itself. But I wonder how could CO2 levels ever sink then? The integral needs a dissipation factor, otherwise even at constant temperature, CO2 levels would continue to rise, indefinitely. Did I miss something? Maybe I have to watch it again…

      • StephanF:

        are observed as being proportional to text
        does NOT mean
        are due to

        Now you know that, it may benefit you to watch Salby’s lecture again.

        Richard

      • Janice,

        Repeating the same errors from Dr. Salby doesn’t make them true… He indeed integrates temperature (as Bartemus does) and then declares that all CO2 increase is from temperature. But by doing that he integrates both the variability and the slope. It can be proven that most of the variability is indeed the short time influence of temperature on CO2 releases from (tropical) vegetation, but vegetation is a proven sink for CO2 over periods longer than 3 years. Thus variability and increase rate are NOT from the same process. As both the biosphere and oceans are proven sinks for CO2, there is nothing important natural source left, only human emissions…

      • ferdinand, nice to “see” you… i really don’t like your deductive line of reasoning at times. I’ll give you an analogy. Say a man argues that life cannot exist without intelligent design. A “complex” life form (which even the simplest of life forms is) cannot begin to evolve until it is up and running. The chances of this life form happening by chance then is nil. (the analogy here is that radio signals from the far reaches of the universe will never randomly produce a signal that says “i want pizza”) So the man deduces that an intelligent designer (or God) created life. But, then he runs into the the same problem with the “complex” intelligent designer. Who created God? As a result of his deductive reasoning, he then comes to the only logical conclusion: life (or for that matter God) doesn’t exist…

      • StephanF,

        You posed the right question. If Salby and Bartemis were right, a small temperature offset from a starting point at equilibrium would increase CO2 levels until infinity. In reality it is a transient response of CO2 from the oceans per Henry’s law: at about 16 ppmv/°C a new steady state is reached and CO2 doesn’t increase further:

        Temperature is responsible for almost all variability in the rate of change of CO2, but is only responsible for about 10 ppmv increase since the LIA. The 100 ppmv extra is from human emissions (at near 200 ppmv in the same period).

      • Ferdinand, I find you far too affirmative.
        “variability and increase rate are NOT from the same process”. this is either nonsense or tautology.
        Tautology if you mean that many processes are involved in carbon cycle. Each having its characteristic time (minutes, day, season, years and more) explains a part of variability and a (different) part of increase rate.
        Nonsense if these processes are considered as a whole. Then obviously the whole process explain both variability and increase rate if it is to explain anything of the carbon cycle.

        “As both the biosphere and oceans are proven sinks for CO2, there is nothing important natural source left, only human emissions”. I guess you mean “NOW, in current observed conditions”, because otherwise, if this were always true, CO2 level would had been zero before humans emissions began. Biosphere and ocean are sinks not per se, but dependent on conditions.
        Besides, being a net sink do not mean you don’t contribute to an increase. Even being a stronger sink than before do not mean you don’t contribute to an increase (if, for instance, the growing sink replace an other more efficient sink, or if it stimulates a source). And kinetics can make things even more funny.

        What would had been the increase without human emissions ? zero ? less than zero ? more than zero ? I am pretty sure we don’t know enough of carbon cycle to answer.

      • Richard, afonzarelli & Ferdinand, thanks for your input. This morning I thought this once more through, if Salby’s theory is correct, then we would have seen a remarkable increase of CO2 during other past warming events, but we haven’t (correct?). As we always comment on the warmist’s models that they can’t even ‘predict’ the past, we have to use the same standards here, too. I have to look for Salby’s research on the Internet, maybe he has applied his mathematical models to the past? My expertise lies in other areas (spectroscopy, atomic & plasma physics) and not in atmospheric physics, so I don’t know much of the scientific literature here. If the current CO2 emissions were mostly from natural sources, why did we not see this fast rise in the past? These were questions that bugged me when I listened to Salby’s presentation.

      • StephanF November 24, 2015 at 11:01 pm

        “But I wonder how could CO2 levels ever sink then? The integral needs a dissipation factor, otherwise even at constant temperature, CO2 levels would continue to rise, indefinitely.”

        But, that dissipation factor, or other feedback, can be small enough that it is essentially unobservable over the timeline of observation.

        E.g., we know that, for the past 57 years, the data are very well described by

        dCO2/dt = k*(T – T0)

        where T0 is an equilibrium temperature, and k is a coupling factor. This is undoubtedly a linearized model of a more complicated, nonlinear relationship. There could be another term, e.g.,

        dCO2/dt = k*(T – T0) – CO2/tau

        where tau is long enough that CO2/tau is very small, and its effects unobservable over the interval of observation, yet this term would ultimately limit the level of CO2 attained.

        Or, it could be that T0 itself is a function of the CO2 available from upwelling waters, and will naturally rise towards T as that store becomes depleted.

        Or, there could be a more complicated linearized relationship, e.g.,

        dT/dt = -a*T – b*CO2
        dCO2/dt = k*(T – T0)

        for positive constants a, and b. where temperatures actually decline due to an increase in CO2. This system is stable, also, and has a limit on how high CO2 can go.

        None of this matters. We do not need to worry about ultimate limiting factors. We only need to know that, within the interval of observation, atmospheric CO2 is described to very high fidelity by

        dCO2/dt = k*(T – T0)

        It explains the entire observation interval. And, it leaves little room for human forcing to have a significant impact.

      • StephaF November 25, 2015 at 8:01 am

        “…if Salby’s theory is correct, then we would have seen a remarkable increase of CO2 during other past warming events, but we haven’t (correct?).”

        Maybe. Maybe not. This is not a stationary system. It can easily have one response at one time, and another at another.

        I would also say we do not genuinely know the past. We definitely do not have the resolution needed to see short term spikes. Ferdinand can make a very detailed case claiming that the ice core records are definitive. However, the records cannot be confirmed for the long ago past by any independent means, and so remain speculative.

        It is futile to speculate on things that cannot be known, but that should not turn one from accepting the evidence before one’s eyes. Astronomers of the 1500’s had no inkling of how the planets could move in ellipses about the Sun. Galileo saw that they did. Whatever theoretical objections the others might have had, his observations trumped them. The data are primary, theorizing secondary, when attempting to grasp reality. And, the data tell us that

        dCO2/dt = k*(T – T0)

        for the past 57 years. As this is the era of most of the rise observed in atmospheric CO2, it establishes that the rise is not primarily anthropogenic. You have to start there, and then come up with theories to explain it. Otherwise, you risk the pitfall described by one famous detective as follows:

        “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts” – Sherlock Holmes

      • paqyfelyc,

        The opposite CO2 changes and 13C/12C ratio changes are uniquely caused by the biosphere. If that was from the oceans, the changes would parallel each other.
        On the other side: the oxygen balance shows that the biosphere is a net sink for periods longer than 3 years.

        Thus I may be pretty sure that variability and increase in the atmosphere are not caused by the same process. If the CO2 increase is temperature related or not is a different question…

        Of course, that all is for the past 165 years or so, especially for the past 57 years of accurate measurements.

        Per Henry’s law, the CO2 increase in the atmosphere due to increased (ocean) temperatures would be around 10 ppmv higher, the rest is from human emissions (~200 ppmv emissions, 110 ppmv increase…).

      • StephanF,

        The past 800,000 years show a rather steady 16 ppmv/°C ratio between CO2 and temperature, where CO2 lags temperature with 800 +/- 600 years during a warming episode and several thousands of years during the onset of a new glacial period. A similar change can be seen between MWP and LIA.

        The current increase is 120 ppmv above pre-industrial, of which some 10 ppmv from warming oceans. The rest is from human emissions (near 200 ppmv since 1850).

        Bart’s formula doesn’t take into account the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere which counters the effect of higher temperatures: it is a transient process which ends at 16 ppmv/°C. It is impossible that the CO2 release remains constant for a fixed temperature step without influence of the increased CO2 pressure in the atmosphere. See my new contribution at WUWT about spurious correlations…

      • Well, I don’t agree with it.

        Well, yeah, I agree that we only emit ~3% of CO2. But the other 97% circulates back and forth (Atmosphere to/from soils, etc., and Atmosphere to/from Oceans.

        So that 3% we add (plus anything from vulcanism) is added from the outside, and accumulates. The rest just goes back and forth and does not accumulate.

        Of the ~8 BMTC that we add to the atmosphere, about a bit under half winds up in the atmospheric sink (780 BMTC). Therefore, we add a bit under half a percent to the atmosphere per year.

        Now, I don’t think this is any threat. In fact, I think the additional CO2 and the accompanying mild lukewarming we have seen thus far are hugely beneficial. And Furthermore, I think the demographics and the tech are on track for leaving CO2 rise in the dust within half a century, and if that’s so, we will peak out at maximum environmental and human benefit.

        But to claim our CO2 input has not caused a significant accumulation in our atmosphere is just plain wrong, so far as I can tell.

      • [i]afonzarelli November 25, 2015 at 12:33 am
        ferdinand, nice to “see” you… i really don’t like your deductive line of reasoning at times. I’ll give you an analogy. Say a man argues that life cannot exist without intelligent design. A “complex” life form (which even the simplest of life forms is) cannot begin to evolve until it is up and running. The chances of this life form happening by chance then is nil. (the analogy here is that radio signals from the far reaches of the universe will never randomly produce a signal that says “i want pizza”) So the man deduces that an intelligent designer (or God) created life. But, then he runs into the the same problem with the “complex” intelligent designer. Who created God? As a result of his deductive reasoning, he then comes to the only logical conclusion: life (or for that matter God) doesn’t exist…[/i]

        Afonzarelli, it is obvious you don’t understand intelligent design arguments. They are based on exactly the same historical scientific methods used by Charles Lyell and Charles Darwin, inference to the best explanation, or the method of multiple competing hypotheses. Since we never observe highly complex, functional information systems (such as cells) arising from unguided natural processes, and in fact all such systems in our experience arise from intelligence, then the design inference is the strongest hypothesis.

        No amount of rhetorical arm-waving about who or what caused the intelligence in the first place can get around the fact that we can and do use the inference to intelligent design all the time in forensic science, code-breaking, SETI, etc.

        By the way, though ID does not attempt to identify the designer — the evidence does not reach that far — it is by no means true that theologians are stumped by the “Who created God?” conundrum. God is, by definition, eternal. Hence, he has no beginning and was never created.

        Or to put it another way, the Kalam argument is convincing to me: Everything that begins to exist has a cause. God never began to exist. Hence, God has no cause.

    • atmos CO2 would have been 0, zero, nadda, zip, nowhere to be found.

      And it wasn’t found then was it? Quad Errat Demonstrandum.

      Seriously, we only “know” some of these things in the past from major extrapolations and assumptions. The most reliable knowledge of climate for the past three thousand years is the historical and archaeological record and from that we know of several periods warmer than today, indicating that natural variation is the order of the day and there is nothing abnormal about current conditions.

      • Ice Core Proxies … pretty reliable data….

        Ice cores, cylinders of ice drilled out of glaciers and polar ice sheets, have played an important role in revealing what we know so far about the history of climate. Today, United States scientists are embarking on a new ice coring project in Greenland with a wide range of state of the art analyses in the hopes of resolving questions about how the climate system functions. Drilling for The Greenland Ice Sheet Project Two* (GISP2) began in 1989. When they reach the bottom of the ice sheet, 3000+ meters thick, in 1992 they will have recovered the longest, most detailed, continuous record of climate available from the northern hemisphere stretching back 200,000 years or more through two glacial/interglacial (cold/warm) cycles.

        From this page of the Greenland Ice Sheet Project: http://www.gisp2.sr.unh.edu/MoreInfo/Ice_Cores_Past.html

      • Janice Moore:

        Ice core records ar “pretty reliable data” of what?

        Air obtained from glacier ice is not comparable to air collected in a sample bottle.

        Richard

      • Awhile back it became useless to argue about events too far back with the IPCC. I just concentrate on events that are closer and have historical data associated with them. In this case the LIA and the MWP.

        From what I’ve looked at, the sinks are increasing at a rate faster than the production. If the sinks keep icreasing, then the co2 rate ppm will become zero for man made co2. 1998 was the highest level of co2 ppm. Everything since then has been less in terms of increase ppm, and co2 production increased year over year, till recently 1 bmt has been added additionally each year for the last 6 or 7 years. I wonder if they will report a negative or a net loss in co2. Even 40 years is too long for the half life. However, I’m not going to rule out the amounts could be proportional.

        I’ve thought that if we stopped producing co2, that the huge sink that now exist, the amount of decrease would be ^2 of the increase. How did I come up with ^2? A little bird told me.. no, .. currently at least half of man made co2 is being sunk, additionally natural occurring co2 is also being sunk. Since there is no new additional co2, and a growing sink to accommodate the additional co2 that would be expected, then a ^2 is not unreasonable.

        Based on historical data, the real rate of increase ppm should be 7 to 9 ppm/year.

      • Hi, Richard Courtney,

        Here is what Dr. Salby says about the damping part of the conservation equation v. a v. ice core proxies (and other remarks) in his above-linked Hamburg, 2013 lecture:

        [14:40] CO2 levels in ice change over time (due to natural modification and to measurement error) – Conservation Equation (includes non-conservative factor, i.e., CO2 sinks).

        [15:56] – illustrated by biomass [17:05] – The Conservation Equation includes the total or “effective” damping [23:30] from atmospheric damping (i.e., non-conservative influences) of CO2 in the firn (when ice at top) and damping in the ice as it descends.

        [25:40] Changes in atmospheric CO2 are underestimated in the proxy record (and this underestimation increases radically over time [see graph at 26:11], i.e., the change in the atmosphere is much greater than the apparent change of CO2 in the ice.

        [27:01] Over time 10,000 years, the ice proxy underestimates atmospheric CO2 by a factor of 2; over 100,000 years, under by factor of 15 [27:29].

        [27:52] Observed changes in the 20th century are certainly not unprecedented.

        **********************************

        That is, to answer your question, by taking into account the atmospheric damping of CO2 in the ice over time, the ice core proxy data is considered a reliable “observation.”

        Take care,

        Janice

    • http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/global-carbon-budget-2010

      There are a lot of natural sources and sinks, mostly changing back-and-forth between source and sink with season, weather, or time of day. But the human contribution is fairly well known, and the amount gained by the atmosphere is very well known. Over each year since the Mauna Loa project started, atmospheric CO2 increased by less than human contributions, which means that nature has been removing CO2. I think the main natural sink of CO2 is the oceans, sinking CO2 over most of their area due to atmospheric CO2 having a concentration higher than being in equilibrium with the dissolved CO2 in ocean surface-level waters in most of the world’s area covered by oceans.

    • ” IMO this arbitrary partition was “assumed” in order to “prove” (i.e. make the numbers work)”
      It isn’t assumed; it is observed, and very simply. Here is a plot (from here) of observed Mass of C in the atmosphere (from ppm CO2) vs cumulative emissions (FF and land use). It’s remarkably linear, and the slope is .439 – just that “arbitrary partition”.

    • Nicholas Schroeder,

      You do make an essential error. As Ari Halperin said: “by natural sinks at a rate proportional to the surplus CO2 concentration”. If all human emissions cease, the residual sink rate is NOT constant, but decreases with the difference between the CO2 level in the atmosphere and the equilibrium pressure at “steady state” for the current weighted average ocean temperature, which is ~290 ppmv. Thus if the CO2 level in the atmosphere drops to 290 ppmv, the sink rate is about zero…

    • Whilst I consider that there is merit in the general thrust of the point you are making, I do not consider it as simple as you suggest since neither the sources nor the sinks remain constant over time. In particular, we now know that greening of the planet is one response to the increasing levels of CO2 and this would appear, at least on a short time scale, to result in an increase in the available sinks.

      Regretfully we do not have sufficient knowledge and data to properly evaluate and understand all the sources and all the sinks, including their capacity, and without full knowledge and understanding, we cannot get to the bottom of the Carbon Cycle. There is presently simply too much uncertainty in the underlying data, and it may well be that we have still to discover all CO2 sources and sinks. Hopefully, OCO-2 will lead us to some better insight and understanding of the processes involved and how CO2 is exchanged.

    • IMO this arbitrary partition was “assumed” in order to “prove” (i.e. make the numbers work) that anthro C was solely/90% responsible for the 112 ppmv atmos CO2 increase between 1750 – 2011.

      The above voiced opinion is absolutely correct.

      But the proponents of CAGW will deny that factual accusation because they have undeniable positive provable evidence of this, to wit:

      CO2 concentration in the atmosphere grows mostly because of anthropogenic release of CO2 through fossil fuels combustion and land use changes.

      Surprise, surprise, …… the CAGW’ers can accurately measure the quantity of human emitted CO2 that resides in the atmosphere, to wit:

      The CAGW secret they don’t want you to know.

      There is a nasty ole Anthropogenic Global Warming secret about CO2 that the proponents of CAGW are not telling you. So, surprise, surprise, there are actually two (2) different types of CO2.

      There is both a naturally occurring CO2 molecule and a hybrid CO2 molecule that has a different physical property. The new hybrid CO2 molecule contains an H-pyron which permits the CAGW’ers to distinguish it from the naturally occurring CO2 molecules.

      The H-pyron or Human-pyron is only attached to and/or can only be detected in CO2 molecules that have been created as a result of human activity. Said H-pyron has a Specific Heat Capacity of one (1) GWC or 1 Global Warming Calorie that is equal to 69 x 10 -37th kJ/kg K or something close to that or maybe farther away.

      Thus, said H-pyron is very important to all Climate Scientists that are proponents of CO2 causing Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) because it provides them a quasi-scientific “fact” that serves two (2) important functions: 1) it permits said climate scientists to calculate an estimated percentage of atmospheric CO2 that is “human caused” ……. and 2) it permits said climate scientists to calculate their desired “degree increase” in Average Global Temperatures that are directly attributed to human activity.

      As an added note, oftentimes one may hear said climate scientists refer to those two (2) types of CO2 as “urban CO2” and ”rural CO2” because they can’t deny “it is always hotter in the city”.

      And there you have it folks, the rest of the story, their secret scientific tool has been revealed to you.

      Yours truly, Eritas Fubar

    • Nicholas Schroeder wrote, “IPCC AR5 Figure 6.1 [indicates that] anthro C is partitioned… between [57%] natural sequestration and [43%] atmospheric retention.”

      Other sources use somewhat different numbers. E.g., this presentation by Louisa Bradtmiller says that 55% (rather than 43%) of emitted CO2 remains in the atmosphere. She thinks that 30% goes into the oceans, and 15% goes to “greening” the planet (taken up by the plants):

      http://slideplayer.com/slide/6027359/

      My intuition says that all the numbers except the amount which remains in the atmosphere are very rough estimates, so nobody really knows whether the ratio is 60:40, 40:60, or 50:50. So I generally just say “about half” of the CO2 is sequestered by the oceans and biosphere, and the other half remains in the atmosphere.

      The rate of uptake by the ocean & biosphere is mainly a function of the atmospheric CO2 level (not the rate of emissions), so if anthropogenic CO2 emissions suddenly went to zero then the rate of uptake by the oceans and biosphere wouldn’t instantly change: it would continue at the current rate, so the CO2 level in the atmosphere would immediately begin falling at a rate of about 2 ppmv/year (rather than rising at about that rate, as it currently is).

      That rate of decline wouldn’t last, however. The CO2 uptake accounted for by “greening” goes into carbon stores such as wood and leaves which don’t retain it for very long: a few years, perhaps, on average. So, in the slightly longer term, as “greening” ceases, plant growth rates slow, and “browning” begins, most of the “excess” carbon sequestered in the biosphere would be released. That means the rate of CO2 level decline would decelerate, to perhaps 2/3 of that estimated 2 ppmv/year rate (if Bradtmiller’s 30:15 ocean:biosphere ratio is right). (The precise rates would also depend substantially on ocean temperature trends.)

      It took about seventy years to add ~100 ppmv CO2 to the atmosphere. If anthropogenic CO2 emissions were to completely cease, and levels were to drop at 2/3 of the rates at which they increased over the last seventy years, then it would take about a century for atmospheric CO2 to approach the 300 ppmv level again.

      Unfortunately, declines in agricultural yields would begin long before that. Mankind would miss the precious air fertilizer, a lot.

      • When fossil fuels run out (or we switch to something better), will our descendants express relief that the CO2 levels are decreasing, a cooler climate may be expected, and sea level rise may reverse; or will they be concerned about decreasing crop yields and colder winters? The latter seems more likely to me.

      • FYI, I emailed Dr. Bradtmiller, and asked her about the difference between her numbers (55% remains in atmosphere, 30% in ocean, 15% biosphere/greening), and the IPCC’s AR5 numbers (45% or 47% remains in atmosphere, 26% in ocean, 29% or 27% biosphere/greening). This was her reply:

        “I was very surprised to see that presentation online since I didn’t upload it (or give permission), and don’t know the person who did- I wonder how they got it. It is a presentation I made as a student while studying with my friends for comprehensive exams. Anyway, most importantly for your question, it is very old (10+ years)! So, the difference between my values and the IPCC values can likely be chalked up mostly to out of date information. The differences between the two different sets of IPCC values you cite is probably due to the fact that they cover slightly different time periods. However, it is worth noting that those sets of numbers are effectively the same, since they are within the stated margins of error of each other. As you can see, it is much easier to measure the carbon accumulating in the atmosphere than in land or the ocean; this is reflected in the fact that the uncertainty on the atmospheric accumulation is very low as a percent of the total change (10/240=.041, or 4.1%), while the uncertainties on the ocean (30%) and land (46%) are much larger.”

    • StephanF November 24, 2015 at 11:01 pm

      “But I wonder how could CO2 levels ever sink then? The integral needs a dissipation factor, otherwise even at constant temperature, CO2 levels would continue to rise, indefinitely.”

      But, that dissipation factor, or other feedback, can be small enough that it is essentially unobservable over the timeline of observation.

      E.g., we know that, for the past 57 years, the data are very well described by

      dCO2/dt = k*(T – T0)

      where T0 is an equilibrium temperature, and k is a coupling factor. This is undoubtedly a linearized model of a more complicated, nonlinear relationship. There could be another term, e.g.,

      dCO2/dt = k*(T – T0) – CO2/tau

      where tau is long enough that CO2/tau is very small, and its effects unobservable over the interval of observation, yet this term would ultimately limit the level of CO2 attained.

      Or, it could be that T0 itself is a function of the CO2 available from upwelling waters, and will naturally rise towards T as that store becomes depleted.

      Or, there could be a more complicated linearized relationship, e.g.,

      dT/dt = -a*T – b*CO2
      dCO2/dt = k*(T – T0)

      for positive constants a, and b. where temperatures actually decline due to an increase in CO2. This system is stable, also, and has a limit on how high CO2 can go.

      None of this matters. We do not need to worry about ultimate limiting factors. We only need to know that, within the interval of observation, atmospheric CO2 is described to very high fidelity by

      dCO2/dt = k*(T – T0)

      It explains the entire observation interval. And, it leaves little room for human forcing to have a significant impact.

      • This is their caption for Fig. 6.1:

        Figure 6.1: Simplified schematic of the global carbon cycle. Numbers represent reservoir sizes (in PgC), and carbon exchange fluxes (in PgC yr–1 4 ). Dotted arrow lines denote carbon fluxes between the fast and the slow carbon cycle domain (see text). Darkblue numbers and arrows indicate reservoir sizes and natural exchange fluxes estimated for the time prior to the Industrial Era. Red arrows and numbers indicate fluxes averaged over 2000–2009 time period resulting from the emissions of CO2 from fossil fuel combustion, cement production , and changes in land use, and their partitioning among atmosphere, ocean and terrestrial reservoirs (see Section 6.3). Red numbers in the reservoirs denote cumulative changes over the Industrial Period 1750–2011.

        (From page 6-8 here: http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/report/WG1AR5_SOD_Ch06_All_Final.pdf )

    • Nicholas Schroeder wrote, “IPCC AR5 Figure 6.1 [indicates that] anthro C is partitioned… between [57%] natural sequestration and [43%] atmospheric retention. …
      …………………………………….PgC/y……ppmv/y
      FF & Land Use Source…….8.9……….4.22
      Ocean & Land Sink…………4.9……… 2.32
      Net Source.……………….…..4.0……….1.90

      A nit: 4.9/8.9 = 55% (not 57%), and 4.0/8.9 = 45% (not 43%).

      • On p. 6-3 AR5 gives somewhat different numbers:

        “During 2002–2011, atmospheric CO2 concentration increased at a rate of 2.0 ± 0.1 ppm yr–1 (equivalent to 4.3 ± 0.2 PgC yr–1 54 ); the ocean and the natural terrestrial ecosystems also increased at a rate of 2.4 ± 0.7 PgC yr–1 and 2.5 ± 1.3 PgC yr–1 55, respectively.”

        That would work out to:
        4.3 / (4.3+2.4+2.5) = 47% remained in the atmosphere
        2.4 / (4.3+2.4+2.5) = 26% went into the ocean
        2.5 / (4.3+2.4+2.5) = 27% went into the biosphere

  2. A relatively small part of the anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere has been released by the US; a relatively large part of the anthropogenic CO2 has been released by China.
    That won’t please the developing countries that are trying to get the West to cough up for their evil ways.

    • Actually CO2 and H2O are both PERMANENT components of the atmosphere, so if one molecule goes it gets replaced by another; so there is always both CO2 and H2O in the atmosphere, and always more H2O than CO2.

      • @g.smith:

        Nothing is /permanent/ …

        Earth’s entire atmosphere could easily be stripped away by the solar wind if not for the its internal magnetic field generating dynamo.

        Life on Earth /has/ changed the atmosphere.

        The claims of the CAGW camp /were/ not entirely unfounded. However, the science done in the last 30 or so years shows that the alarmist position is likely well over played.

        I, for one, am very grateful for that… that CAGW does not appear to be a correct hypothesis or assumption — depending on your view of the testability of the individual variables.

      • unknown…

        permanent doesn’t mean eternal; more like “abiding”

        (a permanent job doesn’t necessarily last till you die)

      • OK. There was no CO2 in the atmosphere before the big bang.
        So I’ll limit my time scale to the period since Lucy’s ancestor climbed down out of the fig tree and first tasted grass fire cooked meat.

        The only thing that is relevant to next month’s Paris decisions, is a planet with the current orbit and sun and the continental land masses about where they currently are.

        Anything that might have changed in Geologic time is of no interest next month.

        g

      • @g:

        >Anything that might have changed in Geologic time is of no interest next month.

        Actually this is precisely the topic. The present day versus geologic time, and the differences, if any.

    • Thank you for sharing that EXCELLENT paper, Hans Erren!

      “the IPCC has grossly underestimated the future oceanic CO2 uptake.,

      (Source, above-linked article, “Little Warming with New Global Carbon Cycle Model” by Peter Dietze (1997))

      The linked paper supports the quoted statement with well-reasoned, solidly data-backed, argument.

      Worth reading.

      **********************
      About Peter Dietze: “Peter Dietze studied electrical and control engineering. Professional work was in software development for power system control. Special interest in natural sciences, energy and energy politics led to over ten years of intensive private (non-sponsored) work in global warming science with focus on carbon models. Results were published in a dozen of articles and several presentations.”

      • BUT…He’s not a ” Climate Scientist ” so he must be paid by Big Oil, just ask any liberal !!! sarc !!

  3. “CO2 concentration in the atmosphere grows mostly because of anthropogenic release of CO2 through fossil fuels combustion and land use changes.”

    Actually, no. CO2 concentration in the atmosphere grows because of natural influx exceeding natural outflux, which is temperature driven.

    Human inputs are essentially superfluous to this relationship, having negligible impact.

      • These plots are very complicated, Ferdinand, and too little information is given to understand exactly what you have done.

        I am wary that, with the different time constants, you are applying sink activity differently for anthropogenic and natural CO2. These inputs must be treated exactly the same in terms of their removal from the atmosphere.

        Give your exact equations, not just graphs.

        Also, you should show the match all the way back to 1958, using the SH data.

        Unfortunately, you have once again caught me at a time when I must travel. It is the Thanksgiving holiday weekend here in the US. I will be gone until Sunday. Will try to check in later, but can give no guarantees.

      • Bartemis,

        I used no different sink rate for natural sinks, only a different transient response time of CO2 from the biosphere and oceans to temperature changes.
        Any extra CO2 above the (temperature controlled) steady state level is threated the same way.

        The background and calculations are in my guest contribution at WUWT of WUWT of today.

        A pity you have to leave, we will need to wait till Sunday…

    • Bartemis,

      Almost all variability is caused by temperature, almost all increase is from human emissions:

      That graph shows that both temperature alone or the sum of human emissions minus the half life time of ~40 years + the transient response from nature to temperature changes do largely match the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.

      The difference: temperature is increasing linearly, which is also the case for the transient response of the natural sinks and sources. In the derivatives that gives near zero slope. Human emissions increase slightly quadratic, which gives a linear slope in the derivatives.

      Further, the temperature “match” violates all known observations, not at least Henry’s law for the solubility of CO2 in seawater, while the human cause fits all observations.
      The match of temperature with variability and slope is entirely spurious…

      The transient response of nature does 100% match the variability of temperature in the derivative for timing and form. Here enlarged for the period 1987-2002, which encompasses the two largest temperature changes: the 1991 Pinatubo and the 1998 El Niño:

      I have sent a new version of the complete story about the transient response to WUWT and hope that it will be published soon, so that this discussion can be finished for once and for good…

      • The “temperature increase” is “anthropogenic” only in the sense that it has been falsified by a few men. It’s time to drop these scientific-looking graphs, they are fraudulent.

      • I am in a hurry, and the nesting here is complicated, so this is a repeat of the above comment.

        These plots are very complicated, Ferdinand, and too little information is given to understand exactly what you have done.

        I am wary that, with the different time constants, you are applying sink activity differently for anthropogenic and natural CO2. These inputs must be treated exactly the same in terms of their removal from the atmosphere. (I very much suspect you haven’t ensured this.)

        Give your exact equations, not just graphs.

        Also, you should show the match all the way back to 1958, using the SH data.

        Unfortunately, you have once again caught me at a time when I must travel. It is the Thanksgiving holiday weekend here in the US. I will be gone until Sunday. Will try to check in later, but can give no guarantees.

  4. We have measurements of atmospheric CO2 concentrations going back many decades. How should these measurements behave in the future under the two competing scenarios of 1000 year and 40 year residence times? When should we be able to detect which hypothesis is correct?

    • Answer: in either case, emissions are accelerating, so atmospheric concentration should be accelerating.

      But it isn’t.

      The rate of change of atmospheric concentration instead leveled off to a near constant value at the onset of the “pause”

      • It seems to me that the strongest driver of CO2 levels is temperature. It comes as no surprise that temperature is the dominant player in tow,

        Unfortunately, we do not have the necessary data covering the ~1860 to ~1880, the ~1920 to~1940 warming episodes, and above all, the ~1940 to ~ 1970 cooling.

        If we had that evidence, particularly detailed CO2 levels for the period ~1940 to 1960 which we could compare with pristine temperature data, we would be able to shed much light on the point that you are making.

        As usual, in Climate Science we are faced with a lack of quality data, or data that covers too short a period from which to properly understand matters.

      • Richard, the southern hemisphere data is also a good fit and goes all the way back to the inception of MLO (and, of course beyond). One would think that over half a century of data is enough to come to the obvious conclusion that temperature is in lock step with the carbon growth rate…

    • Rabbit,

      For the moment it is impossible to know who is right. The IPCC uses the Bern model, which is a mix of several decay rates, depending of the sink process, but includes a sink limit. That is right for the fastest sink; the ocean surface, which is saturated at about 10% of the increase in the atmosphere. They imply that to the deep oceans too, for which is not the slightest sign of saturation in the foreseeable future (that gives the ~40 years half life time) and they apply that to vegetation, which has no uptake limit at all, but is slower in uptake rate into more permanent storage (humus, peat, browncoal,…).

      Hans Erren has somewhere a nice graph of the difference between the observed current decay rate, if sustained in the future, and the Bern model, but I have no link.
      Anyway, it will take a few decades to be sure who is right or wrong in this case…

  5. Well assuming that we now have 400 ppmm of CO2 and the stable base amount is 280 ppmm, then the excess CO2 is 120 ppmm.

    At Mauna Loa where they have no oceanic ice melting, the CO2 drops by 6 ppmm in 5 months, every year.

    At the north pole, and over all the Artic ocean that amount is 18-20 ppmm drop in 5 months. So at that rate the whole lot would be gone in 6 to 6.66 times five months or about 33 months.

    So that is the decay time constant.

    So 99% would be gone in 5 time constants, or about 14 years

    So if we stopped adding any more CO2, the CO2 would drop to 280 ppmm in about 14 years.

    g

    • Well if you want to take the ML rate as the global average, then 99% would be gone in about 42 years.

      So I don’t believe the half life is as much as 40 years.

      maybe about 7 times 33 months, so the half life is more like 19 years, rather than 40 years.
      g

      • My estimate some ten years ago yielded a half life of 24 years for the virtual anthropogenic component of atmospheric carbon dioxide. I did not estimate the uncertainty of the result.
        A more sensible approach than the ad hoc “half anthropogenic CO2 sequestered in the first year from emission, the rest over a thousand years”.

      • Actually; rule of logarithm calculator; 99% decays in 3.33 half lives.

        Tony L is confusing half life with time constant. 99% decay is in 5 time constants; not 5 half lives.

        2^3 = 8; 2^4 = 16; 2^5 = 32, NOT 10 !!

      • Well it seems that the adult version is a bit over the head of some WUWT readers.

        So here’s the 4-H club version.

        ” Residence time ” is the time it would take to rid the atmosphere of EXCESS CO2, above the 280 ppm perfect base rate; IF ALL PROCESSES ADDING EXCESS CO2 CEASED.

        Adding CO2 continuously and taking it away continuously has nothing to do with residence time.

        Turning on both the hot and cold water taps into your bath tub, and then pulling the drain plug, is NOT how you determine how long it takes to EITHER fill, or empty your bath tub.

        The ML CO2 amount drops 6 ppm in just five months, almost linearly when SOME of the excess CO2 processes shut off for that five months.

        An EXPONENTIAL decay process has a starting decay rate, which if continued linearly, would reach ZERO in ONE time constant; that’s a common way of measuring time constants, by observing decay rate immediately after shutting off the process.

        This discussion seems to have fooled a lot of WUWT readers; but it doesn’t fool Mother Gaia.

        She can read the serial numbers on each and every CO2 molecule in the atmosphere, so she knows when your run one of them off the field and replace it with another one that you were pumping up with oxygen for the next play.

        So she sees you sneaking NEW CO2 into the atmosphere to hide the fact that some perfectly natural process is sucking it out of the air big time.

        You have to terminate ALL processes other than those that maintain the ” equilibrium ” 280 ppm amount that the chicken little crowd is cackling about.

        g

        sorry for the shouting and for the commas too

    • George, that Mauna Loa rate of decay does not continue for the entire year and at the north pole over the entire planet. In fact if rises at most other times for a small net annual gain

      Another way to estimate it is as follows: If there were no excess absorption, CO2 would grow about 1 ppm / year from man made emissions. The actual rate is about one half of that. So net absorption is 0.5 ppm with a surplus of 400-180 or 220. That looks like a time constant of 440 years and a half life .69 X 440 or 305 years. However if a warming ocean emitted, say 2 ppm net, than net absorption would 2.5 ppm / year and half life drops to 305/2.5 or 122 years. In this case land and vegation must be a net absorber.

      So what am I doing wrong given the above assumptions?

      • Major error in my above comment. The net absorption should be about 0.5% not 0.5 ppm. At 400 ppm net absorption is 2 ppm. So my estimates for half lives should be reduced by a factor of 4 giving about 76 years and 30 years for the two cases.

    • The annual 6 ppm drop at Mauna Loa is a seasonal one that is countered by its annual opposite seasonal event. Other parts of the world, especially in the northern hemisphere, show seasonal effects that cancel each other out over each whole year. As for specific cold ocean areas that are CO2 sinks, they sink CO2 at more than average for the world’s ocean sinking of CO2. For that matter, some tropical oceans source CO2 because their water was warmed by the sun after sinking CO2 previously when that water was colder.
      If we ceased manmade net sourcing of CO2, the current 400 PPMV would likely go halfway to the pre-industrial 280 PPMV which is 340 PPMV in about 41 years.

      • So sorry, working too late.

        I made another error in my calculations in my comment 2 above, Excess CO2 should be 400 – 280 or 120 ppm, not 220. With estimated man made emissions adding 1% per year, but CO2 as measured only growing about 0.5%, absorption is 0.5% or about 2 ppm per year. Since 2 is much less than the excess of 120, the time constant is close to 120/2 or 60 years. To get the half life multiply by – ln(0.5) or 0.69, which gives about 41 years. This is very close to the estimate in this paper.

        It also means if we cut the emissions in half, there would be no more growth above 400 ppm. If we cut emissions by 25%, growth would to 0.25% per year increasing the doubling time from about 140 to 280 years.

      • @ Richard Petschauer – November 25, 2015 at 12:51 pm

        If we ceased manmade net sourcing of CO2, the current 400 PPMV would likely go halfway to the pre-industrial 280 PPMV which is 340 PPMV in about 41 years.

        No, it would not.

        If manmade net sourcing of CO2 stopped immediately there would be no detectable change in the bi-yearly (seasonal) cycling of atmospheric CO2 (avg. 6 ppm)…. or the annual increase of atmospheric CO2 (avg. 1-3 ppm).

        As per the Keeling Curve graph and/or Mauna Loa record the aforesaid bi-yearly cycling and annual increase has been “steady & consistent” for the past 57 years …. regardless of what humanity was doing during those same 57 years

        I compiled the following statistics via reliable sources, to wit:

        (Note: I used December’s CO2 ppm count … but the yearly maximum CO2 ppm always occurs mid-May of each year.)

        Increases in World Population & Atmospheric CO2 by Decade

        year — world popul. – % incr. — Dec CO2 ppm – % incr. — avg increase/year
        1940 – 2,300,000,000 est. ___ ____ 300 ppm est.
        1950 – 2,556,000,053 – 11.1% ____ 310 ppm – 3.3% —— 1.0 ppm/year
        1960 – 3,039,451,023 – 18.9% ____ 316 ppm – 1.9% —— 0.6 ppm/year
        1970 – 3,706,618,163 – 21.9% ____ 325 ppm – 2.8% —— 0.9 ppm/year
        1980 – 4,453,831,714 – 20.1% ____ 338 ppm – 4.0% —– 1.3 ppm/year
        1990 – 5,278,639,789 – 18.5% ____ 354 ppm – 4.7% —– 1.6 ppm/year
        2000 – 6,082,966,429 – 15.2% ____ 369 ppm – 4.2% —– 1.5 ppm/year
        2010 – 6,809,972,000 – 11.9% ____ 389 ppm – 5.4% —– 2.0 ppm/year
        2012 – 7,057,075,000 – 3.62% ____ 394 ppm – 1.3% —– 2.5 ppm/year

        Source CO2 ppm: ftp://aftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/products/trends/co2/co2_mm_mlo.txt

        Based on the above statistics, to wit:

        Fact #1 – In 70 years – world population increased 207% – CO2 increased 31.3%

        Fact #2 – Atmospheric CO2 has been steadily and consistently increasing at a rate of 1 to 2 ppm per year for the past 70 years, …… whereas human generated CO2 releases have been increasing exponentially every year for the past 70 years.

        Fact #3 – Global Temperatures have been steadily and consistently increasing a few hundredths or tenths of a degree for the past 70 years, ……. whereas human created infrastructure, housing, vehicles, etc. (Heat Islands) have been increasing exponentially every year for the past 70 years.

        Conclusions:
        Given the above statistics, it appears to me to be quite obvious that for the past 70 years there is absolutely no direct association or correlation between:

        Increases in atmospheric CO2 ppm and world population increases.
        Increases in Average Global Temperature and world population increases.
        Increases in Average Global Temperature and Heat Islands construction increases.
        Increases in Average Global Temperature and atmospheric CO2 ppm increases.

        But then of course, …… I am not looking through Rose Colored Glasses.

        And ps: There is no “half life” associated with atmospheric CO2 …. anymore than there is a “half life” associated with the US money supply.

    • Some months back, I suggested to Ferdinand that the OCO-2 data suggested a CO2 residency time of about 15 years, or at any rate 20 years or less.

      I am pleased to note that you too are of like opinion.

      I consider the residency time claimed for CO2 is very much exaggerated. AND this is very important since if residency time is lower, it enables us to adopt a wait and see policy. It puts off the day when we need to go all out to mitigate CO2 emissions (not that I consider that we need to do that since I consider that observational evidence suggests that Climate Sensitivity, if any at all, is modest, and I consider that warming would be a net positive for life on planet Earth).

      • The residence time of carbon dioxide molecules, measured from isotopic concentrations, is confounded by diurnal two-way ocean-atmosphere exchanges.

    • George,

      Different processes at work: the seasonal changes are 100% temperature controlled, where vegetation is leading. The sink rate of the extra CO2 in the atmosphere is 97% pressure (difference) controlled, 3% by temperature (as that influences the pCO2 if the oceans) where the oceans are leading…

      If you were right, the remaining fraction of human CO2 in the atmosphere (as mass) should be much lower than around 50%…

      • What is this “extra CO2” you’re talking about ?
        I fear the result depends much on your definition, and that’s no good.
        If you mean “CO2 in excess of the equilibrium concentration according to Henry’s law”, well, the surprise would be if it were not “pressure controlled” and “oceans [leaded]” .

      • paqyfelyc,

        Indeed the extra CO2 above steady state for the current weighted average ocean temperature per Henry’s law…

        I see you know the difference, but some here insist that a fast response of vegetation to a temperature drop means that all sinks are not overloaded by human emissions…

      • All the talk about ‘equilibrium’ is ridiculous. The level of CO2 changes over time and has changed during the entire past history of the planet earth and it goes up and down and when we have Ice Ages which is the norm since the last roughly 2 million years, it is very low.

        This is more like a ‘tick tock’ system going from one setting to the opposite like clockwork and we don’t fully understand how this works but we know that it is happening and the likelihood of it not tick tocking back to another Ice Age is wishful thinking.

  6. Not 1,000, not 40, but probably less than 10 years. Jennifer Marohasy presented a convenient chart of peer-reviewed estimations/measurements of the CO2 residence time in 2009, here, with accompanying text:

    “In order for increased human carbon dioxide emissions to cause accelerated global warming, the climate models need to assume that carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for a very long time, up to 100 or more years.

    “Since the IPCC’s task is to prove any global warming is due to human CO2 emissions, they decided to proclaim that carbon dioxide was long-lived in the atmosphere — a fabricated assumption.

    “They did this despite the overwhelming majority of peer-reviewed studies (and corroborating empirical measurements) finding that CO2 in the atmosphere remained there a short time. Literally, a fabricated assumption, driven by political agenda, became a cornerstone of fraudulent climate model science. As a result, billions spent on climate models that are unable to predict climate with any accuracy…”

    So NOAA’s claim was known to be fraudulent years ago.

    • https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/04/19/the-secret-life-of-half-life/

      An individual surplus molecule of CO2 will probably be removed from the atmosphere within 10 years, as shown by the “bomb test data”. But a CO2 molecule being absorbed from the atmosphere by the ocean makes the ocean more prone to gas-out an already-dissolved molecule of CO2. Willis Eschenbach showed in the article linked above that over a time period that counts, the half-life of CO2 in the atmosphere that is in excess of being in equilibrium with nature as a whole such as the oceans is 41 years.

      • I have only quickly rescanned the article by Willis, but I did not see that he had proved the half life to be 41 years. I note that he talks about recycling/turn over and suggests that that adds to the theoretical half life.

        Perhaps you would like to quote the passage in which the period of 41 years is said to be proved.

    • “Jennifer Marohasy presented a convenient chart of peer-reviewed estimations/measurements of the CO2 residence time in 2009, here,”
      The link is mangled; I think you mean here. As DK says, Willis shows what is wrong with that. It’s comparing different things. Mr Halperin says
      “For some time, the subject was surrounded by confusion, created by sloppy definitions and evasive statements in IPCC assessment reports. There was a mix-up between the residence time of a CO2 molecule in the atmosphere and the rate of change of the surplus CO2 concentration.”
      But there is no sloppiness in the IPCC reports on this. The confusion is created on the skeptic side, as in JM’s post. The chart shows a whole lot of residence times, contrasted with the IPCC estimate with the rate of change. They aren’t the same, as Willis says. Mr Halperin gets that right.

      And note Jenny’s chart shows the IPCC estimate as 100 years, not 1000. But in fact, the IPCC notes that there are multiple time scales, and you can’t reliably quote a single half-life. Decay isn’t exponential. Box 6.1 in the AR5 sets this out very explicitly.

      • Nick Stokes November 24, 2015 at 11:02 pm

        …It’s comparing different things. Mr Halperin says
        “For some time, the subject was surrounded by confusion, created by sloppy definitions and evasive statements in IPCC assessment reports. There was a mix-up between the residence time of a CO2 molecule in the atmosphere and the rate of change of the surplus CO2 concentration.”
        But there is no sloppiness in the IPCC reports on this. The confusion is created on the skeptic side, as in JM’s post. The chart shows a whole lot of residence times, contrasted with the IPCC estimate with the rate of change. They aren’t the same, as Willis says.

        Here I am agreeing with Nick again, is this a sign of the end times? In any case, yes, the two things are often confused or worse, conflated.

        One is the airborne residence time of an average CO2 molecule, which is under ten years. Determining this is pretty straightforward, with a couple lines of evidence.

        The other is the “half-life” (or the “e-folding time”) of an increase in atmospheric CO2. This is the time it takes for a pulse of CO2 injected into the atmosphere to decay to 1/2 (or 1/e) of its original value. Determining this is much harder, for the reasons I give elsewhere in this thread.

        w.

    • You people confuse yourselves and any passing readers with such pretentious drivel as “the half-life of CO2 in the atmosphere that is in excess of being in equilibrium with nature as a whole”. So many words for a critical definition implies vague thinking–as in, “in equilibrium with nature” sounds like a moving, and elusive, target. But your comments merely remind me that there is no consensus on the “basic physics”, and I really have no interest in feeding the fires of disagreement among all of the egos involved (including my own). Just be assured that none of us knows that which has not even been properly defined.

    • SO…… What happens if the natural contribution of CO2 to the atmosphere is actually several times the amount in this simple analysis. This is the satellite generated data of CO2 concentration. Looks to me like significant contributions from the active tectonic zones particularly the shield volcano on the southern end of the African Rift Valley. it also brings tears of laughter when compared to the CO2 Model on the same NASA VO2 Page. Environmentalism at its naked best.. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/first-maps-from-carbon-monitoring-satellite-show-global-co2-levels/ Sorry couldn’t find the actual link to the NASA data.

  7. The kinetics of CO2 have to be approach to equilibrium kinetics, not first order decay kinetics.
    Make assertions about natural and anthropogenic sources, make an assertion about the source of “excess” CO2, then apply the wrong kinetics model. You will get answers for an initial value and a decay rate. The fits may even look good, but they will not be right.

    • The kinetics of removal of surplus CO2 from the atmosphere by nature (especially the oceans) has a non-constant time constant, as described by the Bern model. The Bern model can be fine-tuned according to climate sensitivity to CO2, but it shows that an injection of CO2 into the atmosphere starts with approaching equilibrium at a fast rate and possibly almost as fast as the !10 years cited by the “bomb test data”, but slowing as ocean at levels under the surface get CO2 gains from surface-level ocean water. As I have cited in other comments here, a “one size fits all” half life of manmade increase of CO2 was shown (by someone who showed his work) as 41 years.

  8. CO2 concentration in the atmosphere grows mostly because of anthropogenic release of CO2 through fossil fuels combustion and land use changes.

    So to what extent does CO2 generated by forest fires and volcanic eruptions contribute to atmospheric concentration?

    • Bob,

      Volcanic emissions are estimated at 1% of human emissions, based on permanent monitoring of active volcanoes like the mount Etna in Sicily/Italy. Even the Pinatubo eruption, larger than all volcanic eruptions of the past century together, didn’t increase the CO2 rate of change, to the contrary.

      Forest fires only recycle CO2 that was captured a few years to a few decades before out of the same atmosphere and do regrow quite fast, thus over longer periods don’t add to the atmospheric inventory.

      Human emissions are from CO2 taken out of the atmosphere millions of years ago (at much higher levels) and do ad to the current CO2 level…

      • I suspect that the amount of naturally outgassing CO2 is very much under-estimated since we only monitor the larger volcanos.

        But my main gripe is the point you make about Forest Fires. As I understand matters, one has an existing forest that is an existing carbon sink and has an ongoing sink capacity of X per year. This forest then burns down and this results in the immediate releases Y amount of CO2 emissions adding to the total level of CO2 in the atmosphere. The forest then regrows thereby once again resulting in a sink. But the material point is that there is little difference in the sink capacity of an existing forest (ie., the one that was in existence prior to the forest fire) and that of one comprised of youthful and growing trees (ie., the regrowing/regrown forest).

        If there is no material difference between the capacity of the sink before the fire and after the fire, then every forest fire simply adds to the total CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

        This is the accounting myth behind biomass. Biomass, because it has a lower calorific value than coal or gas, results in more CO2 per unit of energy produced by its burning (when compared to the amount of CO2 released by burning coal or gas). It is claimed that it is CO2 neutral. This claim would only be true if it is sourced from a carbon sink that was not in existence prior to the felling of the trees, or if a new carbon sink was created after the trees are felled.

        It would have some merit if the capacity of the carbon sink was materially different between that of say old virgin forwest, and new sapling/growing forests, but studies have shown that there is little difference in the amount of CO2 sequestered by old mature forests and that sequestered by young immature forests.

      • That forest fires statement makes sense with a CO2 residence time of about 1000 years.
        But does it apply for a period of 40 years?

      • Actually Richard, studies show that new growth certainly exceeds old growth in CO2 uptake, as common sense says it should.

      • VikingExplorer November 25, 2015 at 6:20 am

        Whilst one would intuitively consider that there would be a significant difference between the carbon sequestering of mature forests and young ones, there has been much research which suggests that the difference is modest There have been many papers published on this. No doubt several of which have been discussed on this site, if one were to research the issue.

  9. The theory presented here is correct. The rate that natural processes are absorbing CO2 out of the atmosphere does depend on how much “extra” CO2 there is and that means CO2 does NOT stay in the atmosphere for thousands of years.

    The numbers are probably off a little however since the rate has been about 1.7% of the excess above 280 ppm for the past 50 years or so. At that rate, it take 130 years or so to remove the excess, if we stopped emitting today.

    The 1.7% rate does appear, however, to be rising slightly over time.

    But keep in mind, we are still adding CO2 to the atmosphere at a faster rate than the natural absorbers operate at.

    If we want to stabilize CO2 at 450 ppm, for example, the infamous target they are trying to get at Paris or +2.0C equivalent, then our emissions would have to be lowered by about 35% compared to today’s level over the next 30 years. if we want to stabilize at 560 ppm, the doubling level, our emissions can go up by a further 6% and thats it.

    In other words, even with the natural absorption rate being so high, we will still blow right by the 450 ppm level or the doubling level without significant restrictions over the next 40 years.

    • “The 1.7% rate does appear, however, to be rising slightly over time.”

      An epicyclic claim. For those who may not get the reference, it is to the epicycles added to planetary motion for the Ptolemaic universe model to explain the discrepancies with observations.

      You can always make ad hoc claims, and pile things higher and deeper to get agreement between your hypothesis and observations. But, when there is a simpler explanation available that fits the observations, such arbitrary reasoning should be abandoned.

      • How do we assume that even if the atmosphere was magically stable at a given CO2 concentration, that there is not a lag in the planets ability to absorb more, IE trees and foliage continue to increase, etc… until that balance is established.

    • But keep in mind, we are still adding CO2 to the atmosphere at a faster rate than the natural absorbers operate at.

      Even NASA agrees the planet is greening. The natural absorbers are increasing and therefore CO2 is being removed from the atmosphere faster and faster.

      • Someone should get the average amount of CO2, H2O, and methane given off by a human every day; and multiply by 365 and then, say, 80, to estimate one human’s contribution to GHGs over a lifetime. Then multiply by the world population, 7.2 billion. In addition to that, do the same for all living, non-plant creatures. Use the resulting mega- or giga-tons to make the case that all such life be drastically cut back from the face of the earth.

      • I think that it is generally accepted that the amount of (so called) GHGs emitted by ants and termites exceeds the GHG emissions by man. Man is a bit player in the biosphere.

      • I once removed sod from a 10-acre field in Washington State. Everywhere the machine shaved off the top 2 inches of sod, there were thousands of the tiniest red ants per square foot on the underneath side. Each one was about twice the size of this comma ,

    • “But keep in mind, we are still adding co2 to the atmosphere at a faster rate than the natural absorbers operate at.”

      Bill, we don’t actually know this. What you’re saying here is based on as yet unverified deeper ice cores (which show lower co2 levels than today). The mlo and human emissions data show that the anthropogenic equilibrium sink rate is at least 47% (since the inception of mlo). If as much as half of all emissions are known to be taken out, then there is no reason that closer to 100% couldn’t be taken out. The difference being made up by an imbalance in nature…

      Bart, nice to see you… You may think that your marathon a while back with ferdinand was a waste of time (as it sure looked like it), but for those of us who stayed tuned in, it was a very worth while time. I myself learned alot, yes, even from ol’ ferdi and i’m sure it was great practice for you in articulating your positions. (i think it really brought out the best in you…)

    • It could be argued that the biosphere’s photosynthesis response as evidenced by the greening of satellite imaging is a solar powered exponentially increasing sink rate. Not a linear response to CO2 concentration.

    • But keep in mind, we are still adding CO2 to the atmosphere at a faster rate than the natural absorbers operate at.

      Well, yes though it isn’t as bad as it is made out to be. If you were to graph human emissions since, say 1980, it would look like a “hockey stick” curve, particularly since the massive industrialization in China. But atmospheric CO2 increase has been nearly linear. This means that either the removal rate has increased with the increase in emissions or that human emissions are not the primary source of the increase. Or maybe some combination of both. For example, one complete ventilation cycle of the ocean takes about 800 years. We still have water today that is upwelling and exchanging gas with the atmosphere that last did so during the Little Ice Age when temperatures were colder than today. So it would not surprise me of there is a large net release of CO2 from the oceans as they slowly warm due to recovery from the LIA and that process might take hundreds of years.

      we will still blow right by the 450 ppm level or the doubling level without significant restrictions over the next 40 years.

      I don’t believe that is going to matter much. Reason is that we are already more than 50% past the doubling point. We have only seen 1 to 1.5 degrees warming since the LIA. Much (most?) of that warming is due to natural recovery from the end of the LIA (temperatures had recovered to near today’s levels in the 1930’s, before human CO2 emissions were much of a factor). So if we pretend that 1/2 of the warming is due to CO2 (which is a stretch) then we would see 0.5 to 0.75 degrees of CO2 warming so far due to CO2. This would seem to indicate that climate sensitivity to CO2 increase has been grossly overstated. Having gone over halfway to “doubling” we have seen only a small amount of warming and that has been coincident with a natural warming cycle that began toward the second half of the 19th century. And it *still* isn’t as warm as it was 1000 years ago in Greenland which would imply there is potential for additional natural warming.

    • I’m not sure I understand your graph. Is “absorption” (before dividing by “excess” to get a percentage) the difference between a year’s anthropogenic emissions and a year’s increase in total atmospheric content? In other words, is the absorption percentage A, i.e., your graph’s ordinate, given by A=\frac{\Delta E-\Delta C}{C-C_0}, where \Delta E is a year’s worth of anthropogenic emissions, \Delta C is a year’s change in atmospheric carbon-dioxide content, C is the total content, and C_0 is the pre-industrial content?

    • That’s not true Bill , that co2 is being produced faster than it can be absorbed. At current rates, the amount of ppm/ year will not only be zero, but may well be negative. The highest year on record for increased co2 was 1998 at 2.93 ppm. We are currently adding about 10 bmt/year more now than then. What’s being absorbed is all of the increase, and the sink is absorbing more of base amount each year. (Using 1998 as a base) . Of course that doesn’t mean that numbers can’t be adjusted at some later date. But then that presents another problem, more co2 would have produced a higher temperature. …. tsk, tsk,.. and as it is now, actual temperatures are well below any of the projections/predictions.

      • “That’s not true Bill , that co2 is being produced faster than it can be absorbed.”

        To the extent you mean being produced by us, that is an hypothesis, not an evidence based deduction. It is an expression of faith. And, it fails to match the data because the increase is clearly temperature dependent, and human inputs are not.

        You have to be very careful to sift through statements made on this topic, and separate out what is mere assertion to what is actually known.

      • What is actually known is: 1. The highest level of increase was in 1998 of 2.93 ppm of co2. 2. The amount of co2 produced by man has increased every year since then, and by a lot. 3. The current sink without a doubt overwhelms the total co2 produced in 1965. In fact the current sink would absorb all the carbon produced in 1965 and 1966 and half of 1967.
        This is not an assertion, the numbers are from NOAA and there is a history to all of these numbers. . I have previously posted here and eleswhere those numbers. If you would care to do the math, you will see that the rate of increase of the sink is faster than our increase. How else are you going to get a billion metric ton each year increase and still have the co2 increase below 1998? Is all of that co2 hiding somewhere too?

      • The natural absorption rate has been lower than the human emission rate since about 1947.

        CO2 actually fell in WWII, about 1.0 ppm in total from 1939 to 1946, but the last time that happened was the early 1850s and 1815-1820 before that.

        Right now, human are producing about 4.6 ppm of CO2 per year and the natural absorption rate is only 2.0 to 2.5 ppm per year.

        CO2 is going to keep going up and up until those two numbers are equal. Realistically, that is not going to happen until 30 to 50 years from now, if we also put deep restrictions on human emission growth rates.

        By 2060 for example, we could keep our emissions to about 5.0 ppm per year and, by that time, the natural absorption rate would have risen to 5.0 ppm per year as well. Stabilization then at 560 ppm.

        That is just the math.

      • I disagree, and the reason is as I have outlined or you missed. The sinks have expanded enormously. I can see one of 2 possibilities 1. The sinks continue to grow and overtake anthropogenic co2. 2. There is a proportionality.
        The sinks are not finite, nor are they linear. If you do the math, there seems to be at least 10% more of the total co2 produced missing, some years 23%. Not accounted for in the atmosphere or in sinks.

  10. “The key to science: on finding a new physical law: First, we guess. Then, we perform a calculation to see what are the implications of the guess. And then we compare the result with direct observations. If it disagrees, it’s wrong.”
    Richard Feynman

    • Except in the case CAGW. Time stands still and any projection/prediction, whether it is true or not proves CAGW. There was no history before 1979, and it is still 2001. Any evidence that refutes CAGW is to ignored, covered up, or made to go away. In any case where it can’t, smear the person saying it as to disparage the data via the person.

      The predictions/projections made in 2001 matter because of the math. Saying it doesn’t matter that the event will occur in 2100 or 2013 is not what CAGW stated to prove the science. They systematically ruled out everything that could cause the climate to change. In a chain of events these things have to happen in a given sequence and a given time. Stronger, more frequent hurricanes, extreme drought in the midwest us, an end to snow, warmer winters, ice free arctic, the Antarctic melting, global sea rise in meters not millimeters due to thermal expansion and glacier melt, global temperature at a 95% certainty at this date. None of that has happened.

  11. Quite a number of studies have examined the half-life of CO2 in the atmosphere. The average of the half-lives is a little over 5 years. So, 40 years is a bit high.

    • I think there is a problem with the definition of residence time. In most chemical reactions the residence time relates to an individual molecule and the residence time is the average of the half lives of all the molecules emitted into that environment. The residence time can be a small number with the assumption that the particle does not return to the original environment.
      The atmosphere is different in that than the same molecule can return back to the atmosphere depending on what environment the molecule where it was initially stored. What is the definition of residence time for the latter case?

      • The residence time for water in your bath tub; over and above what is normally in there (zero for the majority of bath tubs in most people’s houses) is how long it takes to empty the tub of say 99% of the total excess water (tub full) AFTER YOU PULL THE PLUG.

        If you keep adding water from the faucets, then all bets are off. For residence time the taps have to be off.

        g

  12. Thanks, Ari Halperin. Good explanations on CO2 residency time.
    “The half-life of the surplus CO2 concentration is approximately 40 years.” Interesting result pointing to a much more dynamic planet Earth.
    Your website “Defy Climate Cult & Alarmism” will have links from my climate and meteorology pages.

    • Since N2 is about 78% of the atmosphere, any significant change to that would involve unimaginably huge processes, which simply aren’t happening. I notice the article you link to doesn’t give even a glimpse of the reasoning behind this. More “trust us, the sky is falling” lunacy. Thanks for bringing it to our attention – people who don’t have the background to be sure of their views on CO2 should have no trouble seeing through the nitrogen scam – and learning that the alarmists are simply shameless, shameful, liars.

      • Ah, so there is another Enviroprofiteer hu-stler lurking behind a rock…. someone with a product that wants contrived-market share (via government regulation) to eliminate a competitor with a more effective (and, according to REAL science, a safe) product that uses nitrogen, eh?

        Just like the “organic” food sc@m….
        Just like the freon-ozone hole sc@m…
        Windmills…
        Solar panels….
        “Sustainability”….
        and it never ends.

        Truth wins, in the end, every time.

        … then, the forces of pseudo-science-hu-stling come up with another money-grubbing angle.

        And the SCIENCE GIANTS of the earth (like many of you on this thread) will knock them down….

        And when the Enviroprofiteers and their Envirostalinist cronies in gov’t.
        raise the game to “we must control the people of the world,”
        that is when all the efforts of you WONDERFUL SCIENTISTS
        AND ENGINEERS OF WUWT
        make their most important difference, for

        WUWT is mainly about: freedom.

        ******************************************
        GO, ANTHONY, ET. AL.!! #(:))
        ******************************************

      • WUWT is mainly about: freedom.

        Agreed, and that is why I consider it a shame that some scientific topics are not aired on WUWT, although I fully understand the politics behind not airing these issues.

  13. So I’m just a bit puzzled here. If we take the pre-industrial concentration of CO2 to be about 280ppm, then one would assume that at that level, the amount of CO2 entering and leaving the atmosphere must be nearly in balance. If there are no feedbacks, then adding extra CO2 will increase the rate of removal of CO2 from the atmosphere in proportion to its total concentration – not just the extra over 280ppm.

    And is the assumption of no feedbacks correct? If increased CO2 concentrations lead to warmer oceans, that may reduce the rate at which oceans can take up extra CO2. So the simple exponential decay model may be a bit dodgy.

    If I get time, I’ll look at how the warministas get their slow rate of decline of atmospheric CO2, and compare to the paper cited in this post.

    • Re: “the assumption of no feedbacks” — has to be. Otherwise, the world would have blown up (okay, okay, burnt to a crisp or whatever “planetary emergency” might possibly happen in Gore’s Fantasyland) long ago.

      Here is an engineer’s take on it (I don’t advocate every sentence in his article, but it is a good one as to positive feedback):

      Why wasn’t there thermal runaway in each, or any, prior interglacial (as is now feared for this interglacial)? We know that the Earth has never experienced thermal runaway (a tipping point). The likely answer is that the theory of pivotal positive-feedback CO2 may be just plain wrong.
      {emphasis mine}

      Ronald D. Voisin, here: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/06/04/an-engineers-take-on-major-climate-change/

    • John,

      The effect of temperature on CO2 levels at “steady state” is known by Henry’s law and is about 16 ppmv/°C. For the current average temperature, that means about 290 ppmv at steady state.
      The opposite influence is about 1°C/2xCO2 (without other feedbacks) or +280 ppmv which gives about 0.5°C of the 0.8°C measured. Nothing to worry about and probably mostly non-CO2 + negative feedbacks (clouds).

      The influence of 1°C increase in the CO2 uptake is less than 3% of the fluxes as the local pCO2 pressure of the oceans at the polar sink places is much lower than in the atmosphere (down to 150 μatm), thus a temperature change has less influence.

    • John the equilibrium 280 ppm of CO2 is busy already driving the removal system to keep the amount constant.

      So if the amount changes to 281 ppm, there is only 1 ppm of CO2 that is not already working at getting CO2 removed; not 281 ppm.

      g

  14. It is my considered opinion that George E. Smith is considerably more accurate than the author of this post.
    My estimation was int he neighborhood of 10 years, but I will defer to George this time.

    • Steve in SC, I agree that George E. Smith’s estimate is the most plausible. It also matches numerous other studies of this matter. However, because Ferdinand is a pure agenda driven fanatic, he will object strenuously.

      • Thanks VikingExplorer,

        I have no other agenda than looking at the science, but some here can’t tolerate that even the slightest hint of AGW may be right, as in this case…

        The residence time is around 5 years. That shows that any CO2 molecule in the atmosphere, whatever its origin, is exchanged with a CO2 molecule from another reservoir. Zero effect on the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
        The half life time of an extra injection of CO2, whatever its origin, is 41 years. That is the time needed to halve the extra amount above physical equilibrium (“steady state”) between the ocean surface and the atmosphere. The steady state for the current temperature is 290 ppmv per Henry’s law, not 400 ppmv.

      • Ferdinand, I’m not getting into another discussion with you, but I may have gone too far by calling you a fanatic. You could indicate that you aren’t by tolerating the slightest hint that AGW might be wrong.

        Your “zero effect exchange” explanation sounds like pseudo-scientific doublespeak to this engineer’s ears. A central concept of science is Gibbs theorem which says that without Work Input, things tend toward lower energy states.

        For example, when one body is warmer than another adjacent body, a delta-T exists which drives Heat (net energy transfer) from the warmer to the colder.

        Similarly, Henry’s law implies that when the one gaseous body has a higher concentration (partial pressure) of a molecular gas than an adjacent liquid body, it will cause a net transfer of molecules into the liquid (dissolve). This decreases the amount in the gas.

        You are claiming that a net transfer is taking place, but that it doesn’t result in any change. This is anti-science agenda speaking.

        >> The steady state for the current temperature is 290 ppmv per Henry’s law, not 400 ppmv

        Science doesn’t work on averages. The average concentration of the entire atmosphere is a non-physical construct. Studies have shown that when the wind is blowing, CO2 becomes well-mixed, greatly reducing the ppmv at the surface. Without wind, it settles, greatly increasing the ppmv at the surface. Plants only get to eat when it’s calm. Prevailing winds over oceans could explain the apparent non-equilibrium in what you wrote. It certainly makes no sense that Humanity could be causing (and maintaining) a large non-equilibrium imbalance, which doesn’t react to large changes in economic activity.

  15. A little Fe in the oceans would see happy fisherman and the true CO2 control knob in place.

    The Southern Oceans have a fertility surplus but shortage of Fe that has been variously calculated as being able to pull the global atmospheric CO2 level down by 77ppm and mega fish. Win win and no centrally governed world.
    as an aside if what is reported above is valid then over doing the Fe could refrigerate a significant portion of planet earth.

  16. It’s pretty easy to calculate an estimate of the capacity of the atmosphere to supply plants with plant food. The intake of CO2 by plants per year is about 1/20th the total atmospheric CO2 content. If no more CO2 entered, the air would be empty of plant food in 20 years, so 40 years for any particular CO2 impulse to be removed entirely seems perfectly reasonable.

    • Thanks Dave, It isn’t surprising to me that the more accurate studies you link to give a lower time, 10 years round about. In calling the 40 years estimate reasonable, I have done a “back of the envelope” estimate. Enrico Fermi popularised the idea that a simple, rough calculation could give you a feel for whether a complex detailed calculation is about right. In this case the 100 years of the IPCC is easily seen to be far too long.

      • Ron House,

        I will always be grateful to you for your affirmation-by-re-blogging of my post about the little swift murdered by the wind turbine in 2013. I just checked and am very glad to see that Winged Hearts (LOVE that name) is still thriving (here: http://wingedhearts.net/notjustabird ). You are a rare one. Good to know people like you, with both a sharp mind and a deeply caring poet’s heart, exist.

        Best wishes to you and Gitie.

        Your sister creature-lover,

        Janice

      • Please, don’t mix up residence time of a single molecule, whatever its source, which is around 5 years with the decay rate of an excess CO2 injection, whatever its source, to get back into equilibrium, which is over 50 years or 40 years half life time…

        Residence time is the throughput of capital (via goods) through a factory
        Decay rate is the gain (or loss) of that capital after passing the full chain.

        Residence time says next to nothing about the decay rate…

      • Janice Moore,

        Thanks so much for your kind comment. Those of us who care want the truth to get out. Building wind turbines and solar concentrators that kill flying creatures in the most horrific way, regardless of one’s opinion of their efficacy for any other reason, should offend every right-feeling person, I think you will agree. Why are so many prepared to bury the knowledge of what these devices are doing, this I don’t really understand.

        I heard a profound remark that made a deep impression on me: “Truth is a seamless robe.” I think it is actually a new coinage by our own Christopher Monckton, as there are only four references to that exact quote in the search engines. (https://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/12/24/monckton-of-meteorology-and-morality/) I mention it because if more people trusted it, they would not make this kind of mistake. It is wrong to kill, main and torture animals, so we shouldn’t do it. Find another way. The other way, of course, is that the entire project is counter-productive as CO2 is plant food. We needn’t be concerned about increasing it, if we can better the world for ourselves and the animals we share our planet with.

        Our very best wishes to you Janice, and to all who care for those who can’t speak for themselves.

        Ron

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen November 25, 2015 at 1:11 am

        “Please, don’t mix up residence time of a single molecule, whatever its source, which is around 5 years with the decay rate of an excess CO2 injection, whatever its source, to get back into equilibrium, which is over 50 years or 40 years half life time…”

        Hi Ferdinand, I am not “mixing up” anything. I specifically said that I am doing a back of the envelope calculation – a rough and ready test to see if the answers are realistic. The worlds plants can entirely empty the atmosphere of CO2 in 20 years. And we know for a fact by many careful scientific experiments that they can respond to increased CO2 rapidly to pull it out and grow very much faster. So any answer from around 10 to around 40 years for restoration of equilibrium meets the BOTE credibility test. The IPCC’s 100 years simply doesn’t. They’re clearly wrong and they should have done this kind of simple test and then looked harder to find out where they made their error.

      • Ron House,

        A lot of CO2 is circulating in the biosphere, but that is mainly two-way: what is absorbed from the atmosphere is released by bacteria, insects, animals,… What counts is what ultimately goes into more permanent storage like humus, peat, browncoal, coal… That is far more limited: some 1 GtC/year. Humans emit ~9 GtC/year in comparison:
        http://www.sciencemag.org/content/287/5462/2467.short
        and
        http://www.bowdoin.edu/~mbattle/papers_posters_and_talks/BenderGBC2005.pdf

        Thus still 40 years half life time…

    • dbstealey November 24, 2015 at 6:05 pm
      CO2 residence times, many peer reviewed papers vs the IPCC:

      That was hilarious !

  17. Ari,

    Thanks for a thoughtful paper. It is interesting to consider the land-use contribution as a non-industrial component and to simply ignore it.

    If we use only the fossil fuel emissions, your model works just as well as before. I get a best-fit Do of 288ppm and a 32-y half life.

    • bones,

      In principle yes, but there is a confounding factor:
      What goes into the deep oceans is the isotopic composition of today. What comes out the oceans is the composition of ~1000 years ago (minus the nuclear decay). That gives at the height of the 14C bomb spike for 100% sink of 12CO2 and 14CO2 (1960) some 97% of 12CO2 returns (as mass) but only 97% x 45% (as mass x concentration) of 14CO2 returns.

      That makes that the 14CO2 decay rate is at least 3 times faster than a 12CO2 excess decay rate…

      • The C14 is just a marker.

        It is showing us not simply what is happening to each individual C14 molecule, but rather to what is happening to the bulk in which the C14 has marked.

      • Richard,

        14C is a marker if there is no return at all or the return is fast, as is the case for the biosphere and the ocean surface. It is problematic if some 40% returns, while from the bulk, 12C some 97% returns…

        The same happens with the 13C/12C ratio: what goes into the deep oceans is the composition of today (minus the isotopic shift at the air-water border), what comes out is the composition of ~1000 years ago (minus the isotopic shift at the water-air border). That gives that the 13C/12C ratio caused by human emissions is diluted to about 33% of what it would be if all human CO2 remained in the atmosphere.

        Both the 14C dilution and the 13C/12C ratio dilution show that about 40 GtC/year is passing the atmosphere from the equatorial upwelling to the polar sinks and return via the deep oceans.

      • Ferdinand, I agree, but 3 times a small number is still small. The clearance time is certainly not the many centuries that the warmistas often state.

  18. then adding extra CO2 will increase the rate of removal of CO2 from the atmosphere in proportion to its total concentration

    I believe this is exactly correct. It will be interesting to see your results.

  19. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/03/29/james-hansen-says-coal-is-greening-the-planet/#comment-1261256
    and subsequent posts by Hoser.
    The 14C bomb spike data make the off-rate of CO2 from the atmosphere crystal clear. It doesn’t matter what the peer reviewed papers say. You can see for yourself, and the truth is undeniable if you understand math.
    Here is the math.
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/11/21/on-co2-residence-times-the-chicken-or-the-egg/#comment-1481426

    The 14C tracer experiment measures very cleanly the rate at which excess 14C leaves the atmosphere. The key point is the CO2 leaving doesn’t come back to any significant degree. The other reservoirs (e.g. ocean, forests, soil) are much larger than the atmosphere.

    If you try to use the IPCC estimates of world anthropogenic CO2 production since 1750, assuming ~280 ppmv in 1750, and assuming humans were the only source of excess CO2, you can’t match the Mauna Loa atmospheric CO2 increase curve knowing CO2 has a 5 yr half life. Although CO2 is exponentially increasing in both curves (data and model), a linear fit is a reasonable estimate over 50 years. These linear fit slopes are in no way a close match. There is simply no way human CO2 releases can account for the increase in CO2 measured at Mauna Loa. The only likely alternative is natural variation. A massive positive CO2 feedback acting over about 1 °C has no reasonable physical basis, and therefore is not likely to be a realistic explanation for the observed CO2 increases.

    Any 14C coming from a reservoir would be part of the process maintaining the normal 14C balance and not part of the bomb excess. Why? Because the 14C coming from the other reservoirs is no different before, during, or after the bomb spike. The reservoir 14C concentration doesn’t change significantly.

    • Hoser,

      A repeat from above:

      There is a confounding factor:
      What goes into the deep oceans is the isotopic composition of today. What comes out the oceans is the composition of ~1000 years ago (minus the nuclear decay). That gives at the height of the 14C bomb spike for 100% sink of 12CO2 and 14CO2 (1960) some 97% of 12CO2 returns (as mass) but only 97% x 45% (as mass x concentration) of 14CO2 returns.

      That makes that the 14CO2 decay rate is at least 3 times faster than a 12CO2 excess decay rate…

  20. A few years ago, Dr Klaus L E Kaiser proved the Royal Society’s claim – that CO2 remains in the atmosphere for thousands of years – was false.

    Dr Kaiser published evidence showing the Royal Society had erred in its calculations, demonstrating that existing peer-reviewed studies found that CO2 only remains in the atmosphere for about 12 years. The studies reported the half-life of CO2 in the atmosphere to be between 5 and 10 years. Dr Kaiser calculated that a half-life of five years meant that more than 98% of a substance would disappear in a time span of 30 years.

    Dr Kaiser also came up with a real killer question – If CO2 were to stay in the atmosphere for millennia, then why had its level in the atmosphere not doubled in the previous 15 years, or gone up tenfold-plus over the previous 100 years?

    Dr Kaiser proved that the claim of the Royal Society was ‘clearly untenable’ and admonished it for failing to do a few ‘simple order-of-magnitude calculations’ so as to check the veracity of its claim that CO2 remains in the atmosphere for millennia.

    • Mervyn,

      You can return the claim: if the decrease rate of the CO2 injection was that fast, why wouldn’t the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere be much lower than about 50%?

      Dr. Kaiser used the wrong decay rate, as good as the IPCC errs in assuming saturation of the main sinks: deep oceans and vegetation…

  21. The 14C bomb curves are conclusive and obvious. Atmospheric CO2 has a “permanent” sink of 50 percent in 10 years. Eg. 1/2 of the total CO2 in the earths atmosphere in 1965 was removed by 1975. In 10 more years the 1965 CO2 was halved again, leaving 25 percent. Simultaneously, a deep natural source was adding “new” CO2 to the atmosphere at about the same rate. Very small changes in these enormous “permanent” sources and sinks have caused the apparent CO2 increase. Human addition amounts to about 3 or 4 percent of natural fluxes. So .03 of 400ppm is 12ppm. The rapid destruction of old tropical forest biology adds another 1 percent. At most the amount of anthro-CO2 now in the atmosphere is about 20 ppm. The 10 year loss of 1/2 of all CO2 translates directly into a tau of 16 years.
    http://euanmearns.com/whats-up-with-the-bomb-model/

    CO2 is essential to photosynthsis. Plants have been starving for CO2 for millions of years. So dire is the extreme low levels of atmospheric CO2 that plants have been evolving more efficient extraction mechanisms. Such evolution is very obvious to any botanist. Such evolution would not occur if it were not essential to plant survival.
    Anyone who claims that CO2 stays in the atmosphere for a thousand years is just clueless.

    • “bw

      November 24, 2015 at 8:50 pm

      So .03 of 400ppm is 12ppm.”

      This is exactly what I have been saying for many years here in Australia. I then quote the following; Total human contribution is ~3% of ~400ppm/v, which is ~12ppm/v per year. Australian contribution is estimated to be ~2% of that total. So that equates to ~2% (Australian contribution) of ~3% (Total human contribution) of ~400ppm/v (Total atmospheric concentration) = 0.24ppm/v per year. And Turnbull recons we need a carbon tax?

      • dadgervais,

        What exactly happens in the deep is not accurately known, but what is known is that it takes a lot of time between polar sinks and equatorial – or in between – upwelling. Over 100 years is enough to dilute the 14CO2 bomb spike with waters that contain less than halve the 14CO2 concentrations.

        That makes that the 14CO2 bomb spike decay is a lot faster than a 12CO2 spike decay…

    • bw,

      Again, there is a confounding factor:

      What goes into the deep oceans is the isotopic composition of today. What comes out the oceans is the composition of ~1000 years ago (minus the nuclear decay). That gives at the height of the 14C bomb spike for 100% sink of 12CO2 and 14CO2 (1960) some 97% of 12CO2 returns (as mass) but only 97% x 45% (as mass x concentration) of 14CO2 returns.

      That makes that the 14CO2 decay rate is at least 3 times faster than a 12CO2 excess decay rate…

      Here in graph form:

      • 14CO2 has chemical properties identical to 12CO2. That is the basis for all tracer science.

        Saying that 14CO2 has a mass dilution much greater than 12CO2 is like saying that CO2 is not the same as CO2.

        Release one liter of 14CO2 at say one meter over the ocean surface, Release a liter of 12CO2 nearby as a control. Then observe the diffusion or dilution of those liters of gas into the surroundings. Both will behave exactly the same because both are carbon dioxide. Or, a coal power plant smokestack releases only 14CO2 because only 14Carbon coal were burned. An identical smokestack 100 meters away releases only 12CO2 because the coal is made of only 12C. The observation of the fate of those emissions will show no difference on any time scale.

        The observation of the atmospheric 14C atomic bomb curve is exactly the same. See the curve at
        http://euanmearns.com/whats-up-with-the-bomb-model/

        The 14C peak of 1964 declines by 1/2 in ten years. That is direct observation that 1/2 of ALL atmosphere CO2 is removed into long time period sinks of the global biogeochemical cycle. That mass decay curve is identical to a Tau of 16 years. There are many people who say exactly the same thing. Such as Segalstad, Pettersson, Dietze, etc.

      • “What comes out the oceans is the composition of ~1000 years ago (minus the nuclear decay)…”

        That assertion/assumption is a mere guess with no data to support it. I agree that it probably takes about 1000 years for the descending water to return to the surface half-way across the globe. But, what happens to it during its journey is unknown and, at present unknowable.

        The deep ocean is known to have rivers, lakes, seas even, of liquid CO2 that the water floats on top of. Then there are deep ocean vents, undersea volcanoes, etc.; and probably more than we suspect. The condition of the returning water may be significantly different than the water that sank a thousand years ago. We have no way of knowing and no justification for guessing.

        As a smart man (my dad) once told me, “A rational person never confuses what they imagine with what they know!”

      • bw,

        Dietze found a half life of 40 years, the same as Ari Halparin:
        http://www.john-daly.com/carbon.htm

        There is hardly any difference between the uptake of 14CO2 and 12CO2 into the deep oceans: that is just a matter of concentrations (and a small shift due to the difference in mass/uptake speed).
        The problem is that not the same composition returns from the deep oceans: that is the composition of ~1000 years ago, long before the bomb spike, which is only 45% of the concentration of the bomb spike that did go into the deep oceans in the same year.

        Thus what returns is about 97% in mass for 12CO2, but for 14CO2, that is 97%(mass)*45%(concentration). A lot less that for 12CO2…

        The 14CO2 bomb spike decay thus is at least 3 times faster than for an excess 12CO2 decay…

  22. On April 19 2015, Willis Eschenbach posted this excellent article:
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/04/19/the-secret-life-of-half-life/

    This article shows calculations indicating that CO2 has an atmospheric time constant (“tau”) of 59 years, and a half-life of 41 years, assuming that exponential decay describes its removal from the atmosphere by nature including the oceans. There is cause to consider that exponential decay is an oversimplification, and the actual decay curve for an injection of CO2 into the atmosphere is a Bern model – faster at the beginning, and slower later on.

    • 1,000 years is not what I usually heard.

      One reads lots of numbers (with zeros) – meaning they have got to be wrong.
      Specifficaly, you can find the “thousands” thing Here, via the EPA</strong.

      “… but some will remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years, …

    • “1,000 years is not what I usually heard”
      Indeed. If you look at the paper cited, it doesn’t give a figure at all. It is establishing, as you have been saying, that there are multiple timescales and, contrary to Mr Halperin’s assumption, it isn’t simple exponential decay. That paper says that one of the slower processes, deep ocean circulation, has a time scale of about 1000 years.

      As I think you said elsewhere, it is quite possible that half of a pulse of CO2 would have left the atmosphere in 40 years. Some might say longer. But 40 doesn’t mean the next half will leave in the next 40 years. It isn’t simple exponential. The Bern model tries to express that.

  23. Question, Rainwater is slightly acidic due to dissolved CO2. What percentage of atmospheric CO2 is removed through being dissolved in rainwater and transferred to the oceans on an annual basis?

    • Robert,

      Hardly any: CO2 solubility in fresh water is extremely low: a few mg/l at 0.0004 bar CO2 pressure. Not measurable in the atmosphere where the raindrops are formed and maximum 1 ppmv for 1 mm of rain / m2 if that all evaporates in 1 m3 air.

      Most of water evaporates where most of CO2 is released to. Even with a low solubility, still huge quantities of water – and thus CO2 – are moved, but that is largely circulation. Only what drops on land can react with carbonate rocks to form all these beautiful caves, but even that needs millions of years…

      • Nick,

        The main difference is in the deep ocean sink rate, where there is no sign of saturation: the cold polar waters still are 250 μatm below atmosphere…

        The Bern model is based on 3000 and 5000 GtC emissions, far beyond the current ~400 GtC emissions over the past 165 years. That gives the huge residual increase in the Bern model. The up to current emissions are good for a residual 1% increase in the deep oceans at full equilibrium or about 3 ppmv in the atmosphere…

      • Ferdinand,

        Yes. The Bern model is essentially a curve fit of multiple exponential decays to the data, and it is simple to make any such ‘model’ fit the data, even if the model is not at all able to make accurate projections. There are far too many free parameters for the available data to in any way constrain the model.

        The use of absurd assumed levels of total cumulative CO2 emissions (12 times emissions through 2105!) makes the long term projections of the model dubious at best, and perhaps more accurately described as ‘crazy’. Were the model run with more realistic total emissions (say 3 or 4 times cumulative through 2015 as a maximum), then the long term residual in the atmosphere would be much lower. But that is not the scary story some want to tell.

        The combination of uncertainties in total emissions, sink capacities (including terrestrial plants), and sink time constants means we need much more atmospheric data to know if the Bern model makes meaningful predictions. My guess: it probably overstates the persistence of CO2 in the atmosphere over all periods.

  24. I recently (accidentally/carelessly) landed on SKS while searching for a factoid and wound up reading the post and comments out of curiosity. The gist of the article was that human CO2 was increasing at a given yearly rate and half of each year’s increase was being added to the atmospheric concentration.

    To the SKS author and commenters, this could only mean that the sinks were being overwhelmed and many had reached saturation. Catastrophe sure to follow! Most of the content seemed unhinged, and I won’t be returning any time soon.

    How ever, the behavior of the increase in atmospheric content being equal to half the increase in human production on a year-to-year basis seemed quite familiar to me, and nothing to be concerned about.

    This behavior is typical of a distribution channel with an average distribution delay (holding time) of 6 months. Since the atmosphere neither produces nor consumes any significant quantity on its own, it certainly functions as a distribution channel: accepting all CO2 produced by the sources, and delivering it (at random) to all sinks to consume.

    1. Since the CO2 is a waste product as far as the producers are concerned (if not, they wouldn’t be releasing it), we may assume that producers operate at their capacity to produce.

    2. Since the atmosphere has, in the geological past, held much higher concentrations, the distribution channel is certainly not near its holding capacity.

    3. Since the majority of sinks evolved in geological periods of much higher concentrations it seems absurd to assume that many (or any) are near their capacity to consume at current levels. Therefore, their consumption rate must be supply-constrained and they must consume all that is delivered. By definition, consumption rate equals delivery rate in any distribution channel.

    By way of illustration, consider a distribution channel with a large number of suppliers (all producing to capacity) and a large number of consumers (all consuming everything delivered). If the channel itself is not significantly changing over time and production rate is (more or less) constant, then the steady state will have consumption rate equal to production rate, and channel loading equal to the production rate multiplied by the average holding time (when expressed in the same time units). Take this be be a baseline.

    Now, assume that one producer finds a way to continuously increase their capacity to produce by one unit each six months. If we examine just the increase in production, consumption, and channel loading (i.e. totals net baseline), then with an average distribution delay (or channel holding period) of six months we would observe the following.

    each 6 month period
    prod 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
    cons 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
    dist 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

    We now consider what this would look like on a year-to-year basis.

    yearly results
    eoy prod 3 7 11 15
    eoy cons 1 5 9 13
    eoy dist 2 4 6 8

    So, after the first year, production increases by 4 units per year, consumption, likewise, increases by 4 units per year, and the quantity in the distribution channel increases by 2 units per year — one half the yearly increase in production. Exactly what any sensible analyst would expect.

    Of course, this also suggests the following: At current concentration levels, the total quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere (or, perhaps, the troposphere) should be (approx) equal to the total CO2 produced by all sources in the last six months, and the total CO2 consumed by all sinks in the last six months should be (approx) equal to the total CO2 produced by all sources in the previous six months. This is, of course, not even close to current estimates (WAGs) of either. In any other field, if these ratios did not hold, I would insist that the accountants have significantly mis-counted something. There’s a lot of undetected producin’ and consumin’ goin’ on. Is that possible? Let’s see, we Know there are about 400 billion trees on earth, or maybe that’s 3.1 trillion… duh!
    —————

    I used a simple discrete case above since some commenters, and many more silent readers, without a lot of math background will see the reasoning more clearly. But, the same conclusion results from considering the continuous case. It takes more than one period to hit the observed ratios, but it asymptotically approaches the above results rather quickly.

    The second, continuous (approx) model would be to consider

    yearly results as a function of time (y = year)
    eoy prod P(y) = 4*y – 1
    eoy cons C(y) = 4*y – 3 = P(y – 0.5)
    eoy dist D(y) = 2*y

    The (indefinite) integral of P(y) is 2y**2 – y + c; and the definite integral from y-0.5 to y is the accumulated quantity in the distribution channel, 2*y.

    The third continuous model would consider (perhaps) a geometric growth rate (think compound interest) in production along with an inverse exponential decay rate of existing CO2. This will always be the case if consumers are not saturated and random deliveries are normally distributed about the mean.

    The function exp(-t) gives a half-life of -ln(0.5) and a life expectancy (average holding time) of 1.
    We would re-scale this function so that life expectancy is 6 months; the half-life is approx 4.25 months.
    And, by the magic properties of exp(-t) and the fact that CO2 molecules do not age, both the half-life and life expectancy remain constant no matter how long any individual CO2 molecule actually exists. The resulting model would again quickly approach a two-to-one ratio between increased production and increased channel loading.

    I’m sure to hear that I’m out in left-field on this because “climate science”, however, It will be the first time in my life (I’m now retired) that I encounter a distribution channel that does not behave as one.

    • dadgervais:

      Thanks for your good post. I think you may be interested in my post that is here.

      I wish more people would emulate your effort to investigate what is happening.
      But, sadly, many people are trying to find evidence that supports what they want to claim is happening.

      Richard

      • Mr. Courtney:

        Thank you for your reply.

        Golly, If that pulse dissipated in three years, that would be about 8 of “my” half-lifes (99.5% gone). Maybe I’m not as far out in left-field as I thought?

        My “investigation” is more like a back-of-a-cig-pack guesstimate based on rough rules-of-thumb from fields far removed from “climate science”; I don’t have time to devote to much more than that.

        But, the seasonal variation in CO2 being three to five times the year-to-year increase (depending on monitoring site location) and the fact that individuals with personal CO2 measuring devices in rural areas report local concentrations vary greatly from the morning high to the afternoon low on a daily basis (often by 15 to 20 percent) has always suggested to me that life expectancy of CO2 (at current concentrations) must be measured in (at most) years; not decades or centuries.

        Thanks again,
        –dadgervais

  25. The pH of rainwater varies from about 4.5 to 6.0 as a result of absorption of atmospheric CO2. The CO2 concentration in rain is only about 350 ppm by weight. One inch of rain over a square mile of ocean will wash about 50,000 pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere.

  26. Ari Halperin:

    Thankyou for your interesting essay. Its conclusions result from the basic assumption you have adopted for your model; viz.

    The true subject of interest is the rate of change of the surplus carbon concentration in the atmosphere.

    That inherently assumes there is a “surplus carbon concentration in the atmosphere” which sinks for carbon dioxide(CO2) cannot sequester because they are overloaded by the rate of emission of the CO2.

    And it leads to your modelling assumptions that

    CO2 concentration in the atmosphere grows mostly because of anthropogenic release of CO2 through fossil fuels combustion and land use changes.

    which – in turn – provides your model’s indication that

    Surplus CO2 is removed from the atmosphere by natural sinks at a rate proportional to the surplus CO2 concentration. The half-life of the surplus CO2 concentration is approximately 40 years.

    If the sinks are overloaded then ANY increase to CO2 emission from ANY source would increase the overloading to provide a ‘pulse’ that would be sequestered with a half-life of ~40 years. But that does NOT happen.

    This assertion of the sinks being overloaded is presented as the IPCC’s erroneous Bern Mode, by Ferdinand Engelbeen, and by others who now include you.

    An alternative understanding of the cause(s) of the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration was provided in one of our 2005 papers
    (ref. Ref. Rorsch A, Courtney RS & Thoenes D, ‘The Interaction of Climate Change and the Carbon Dioxide Cycle’ E&E v16no2 (2005))
    and was later independently provided by Salby (as several have noted in this thread).

    Basically, the alternative explanation is that something has altered (or is altering) the equilibrium state of the carbon cycle system. Some processes of the system are very slow with rate constants of years and decades. Hence, the system takes decades to fully adjust to a new equilibrium. The human emission may be altering the equilibrium but other factors are more likely; e.g. the temperature rise that has been happening for centuries since the Little Ice Age.

    This issue has recently been argued between Ferdinand Engelbeen and me on a thread on Jo Nova’s blog. The argument begins here.

    Tom Quirk had analysed a ‘pulse’ of 9Gt of CO2 in the atmosphere and said

    Plotting the residual differences of measurements from the straight line fit shows that as the world cooled in the 1960s excess CO2 accumulated at low annual rates. During the 1970s and 1980s CO2 was accruing at about 1.5 ppm per year, the average rate of the last 55 years. Then suddenly in 1989 – 1991 large amounts of CO2 were added to and withdrawn from the atmosphere.

    He used isotope analysis to determine that the ‘pulse’ derived from increased emission by oceanic plant material; i.e. it was not a result of sink rate variation.

    I repeatedly pointed out to Ferdinand (who responded with waffle, evasions and irrelevancies)

    The issue is as follows.
    1.
    You say the sinks are overloaded.
    2.
    If so, then any increase to emission from any source must increase the overloading.
    3.
    Quirk demonstrated that the pulse of CO2 in 1988-91 was provided by output from plants.
    4.
    The extra CO2 of the pulse was sequestered by the sinks within three years.
    5.
    Point 4 demonstrates that the sinks are NOT overloaded.

    This issue does not resolve whether natural or anthropogenic CO2 emission is mostly responsible for the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration,
    but
    this issue demonstrates beyond any possibility of doubt that overloading of the sinks (by CO2 from any source) is NOT causing the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

    In summation, Ari Halperin, your analysis is sound except that its result is a reflection of your basic assumption which is refuted by observations.

    Richard

    • There is a very simple point If the total capacity of the globally available carbon sink is growing year on year (as must be the case since the annual increase in atmospheric CO2 is less than the annual anthropogenic CO2 emissions), the totality of the sinks cannot be overloaded/exhausted.

      • richard verney:

        You make a good point, but I think there is a much more important point that is being ignored by most people posting to this thread.

        I repeat the important point using slightly different words in hope that people will consider it.

        About half of the pulse of an additional 9Gt in 1989 – 1991 would have remained in the atmosphere for ~40 years if the “half-life of the surplus CO2 concentration is approximately 40 years”. But ALL of that pulse was sequestered in less than 3 years.

        That pulse having been sequestered in less than 3 years demonstrates that the sinks are NOT being overloaded. And if the sinks for CO2 are not being overloaded then CO2 from human activities are NOT overloading them to cause the rise in atmospheric CO2.

        Richard

      • Richard Verney,

        The sinks do grow in ratio to the extra pressure difference between atmosphere and oceans. Human emissions are twice the current sink capacity, thus they overload the momentary sink rate with a factor 2. That doesn’t imply that the total sink capacity of the deep oceans is exhausted, as that can have much more human CO2. Only the momentary sink rate is overloaded, as the exchange rate between deep oceans and atmosphere is limited…

      • I think that there are a number of ways at looking at this, and the point you make is important. It is indeed stark, and the explanation for its removal probably lies in the La Nina that followed, which goes to suggest that temperature is the dominant driver, and CO2 is a response.

        To some extent the point that Dr Salby was making is relevant when he was talking about not blinking.

        In the April article by Willis, he states:

        Note that according to his numbers the trend in emissions increased after 2002, but the CO2 trend is identical before and after 2002. Dr. Salby thinks this difference is very important. At approximate 4 minutes into the video Dr. Salby comments on this difference with heavy sarcasm, saying:

        The growth of fossil fuel emission increased by a factor of 300% … the growth of CO2 didn’t blink. How could this be? Say it ain’t so!

        Willis then states:

        OK, I’ll step up to the plate and say it. It ain’t so, at least it’s not the way Dr. Salby thinks it is, for a few reasons.,

        Man is pumping out a lot of CO2. Despite all the CO2 that we are emitting, it is clear that it is being churned quickly. Have a look at the OCO-2 data from which one cannot even see the emissions from the industrial heartlands which emissions are swamped by natural processes. CO2 is accumulating at a rate that suggests residency is short, especially when it appears that the bulk of the rise in cumulative CO2 levels has been driven by temperature changes.

        So far I see no evidence that the sinks are overloaded, nor that they are reaching saturation point.

        What appears to be clear is that the total size/capacity of the carbon sinks in 2015 is greater than the total size/capacity of carbon sinks say in 1960 (not surprising given the way in which the biosphere loves and responds to CO2), so that if Man were to stop emitting CO2 immediately, at least in the short term, CO2 would be removed on the basis of the size/capacity of 2015 carbon sinks, Whether as time goes by the available capacity of carbon sinks would subsequently reduce, I do not know but it does not obviously follow that the rate of decrease in the capacity of carbon sinks will inversely follow the rate of the increase in the total capacity of such sinks as from say 1960 to date.

        I consider that it is only the satellite data that enables us to properly consider this, and one would have thought that 40 years worth of satellite data would be sufficient, but I suspect that in the course of the next 10 years (or so) we will have a far better handle on the Carbon Cycle, even if large uncertainties persist surrounding some of the estimates. I do not consider that it is shaping up well for the Bern model (but I could be wrong).

      • >> richard verney
        >>November 25, 2015 at 2:37 am
        >>
        >>There is a very simple point If the total capacity of the globally available carbon sink is growing year on >>year (as must be the case since the annual increase in atmospheric CO2 is less than the annual >>anthropogenic CO2 emissions), the totality of the sinks cannot be overloaded/exhausted.

        I agree with this comment if the word “capacity” is replaced with the term “consumption rate”.

        If a sink is operating below its capacity-to-consume, then it is, by definition, supply-constrained, and it can/will increase its consumption rate any time the delivery rate increases; that will happen as the atmospheric concentration increases.

        The capacity (to consume) may be increasing as well, but the data only reveal the consumption-rate is increasing. The distinction may seem subtle to some, but the implications are not.

      • Richard Verney,

        You need to make a differentiation in the type of sinks: most of the variability you see in the sink rate is from the influence of temperature variability on vegetation: vegetation is very sensitive to short-term temperature variability. Oceans are a lot less, be it the surface more than the deep oceans, which need hundreds of years fro a small change.

        Human emissions increase the pressure in the atmosphere, that influences vegetation to a certain extent, but not that much: 0.5 ppmv extra uptake for 110 ppmv extra in the atmosphere. The oceans are more sensitive to pressure: 1.65 ppmv extra uptake for the 110 ppmv above steady state.

        That the sink rate is a linear process is easily found out: during the increase over the years, the net sink rate was always in ratio to the increase in the atmosphere above the steady state of the oceans. When going down, it may be assumed that the main sink process (the deep oceans) didn’t change that much…

    • As usual, Richard doesn’t know – or ignores – that different processes are at work: some are highly temperature dependent (the biosphere), others far more pressure dependent (oceans).

      Human emissions increase the CO2 pressure in the atmosphere. The sink rate of any extra CO2 into the oceans (and to a lesser extent in vegetation) is directly proportional to the extra pressure in the atmosphere com pared to the equilibrium pressure in the oceans. For the current average ocean temperature, that is 290 ppmv, or 110 ppmv in the atmosphere above steady state equilibrium. That gives a sink rate of ~2.15 ppmv/year or for a linear process that gives an e-fold decay rate of:
      In 2012:
      110 ppmv / 2.15 = 51.2 years or a half life time of 38 years.
      The figures for 1988 (from Peter Dietze):
      60 ppmv, 1.13 ppmv/year, 53 years, half life time 39 years
      In 1959:
      25 ppmv, 0.5 ppmv/year, 50 years, half life time 37 years

      Looks very linear to me, widely within the borders of accuracy of the emission inventories and natural sink capacity variability…

      The sink rate shows a lot of natural variability, as can be proven from the 13C/12C ratio mainly the influence of short term temperature changes on vegetation. Over periods longer than 3 years, vegetation is a net, increasing sink. Moreover, the Pinatubo eruption did give extra light scattering and hence extra photosynthesis from leaves normally part of the day in the shadow of other leaves:

      The temperature and Pinatubo did give an extra uptake of CO2, but in not one year of the past 57 years the sinks were larger than human emissions. In every year human emissions overloaded the natural sinks.

      Thus sorry Richard, you are completely mistaken by not taking into account that different sinks react different on temperature and pressure…

      • As usual, Richard doesn’t know – or ignores – that different processes are at work: some are highly temperature dependent (the biosphere), others far more pressure dependent (oceans).

        I am well aware that different processes are at play, and that they respond differently to environmental factors. I have not overlooked that, but nonetheless, I consider that temperature is the dominant player in town. Not the sole player, but the dominant one.

        Human emissions increase the CO2 pressure in the atmosphere.

        All emissions of CO2, whether these be of human origin or natural origin (eg., volcanos, oceanic outgassing) serve to increase the CO2 pressure in the atmosphere.

        For the current average ocean temperature,

        We are not talking about average temperature of the oceans. The oceans range in temperatures from about 2 degC to over 30degC, and hence the oceanic outgassing and sinking is different in different locations.

        You talk as if CO2 has a constant partial pressure, but we know that CO2 is not a well mixed gas at low altitudes, and this again has an impact on the source/sink interchange. After all the interface where this exchange takes place is for the main part at ground level and this is just where CO2 is not at all well mixed.

        What is the CO2 atmospheric concentration say at 50 m and below on say a 10 km by 10km grid square for the entire planet? What is the partial pressure of CO2 at surface level for each 10 km by 10 km grid square for the entire planet.

        You state:

        The sink rate shows a lot of natural variability,

        Whilst I do not disagree that there is a lot of variability (although I question whether we can identify whether the variability, at anyone moment in time, lies in the capacity of the sinks, or in the extent of the source, and/or a combination of the two), why is there such variability?

        Explain how the partial pressure of CO2 has varied from year to year, or the average temperature of the oceans has varied from year to year, or how the biosphere has contracted or expanded from year to year such as to explain the variability that you note. Where is the evidence backing it up?

        I understand the logic that underpins many of your arguments, but these arguments are based upon assumptions and there is a lack of data supporting the assumptions that you seek to rely upon. Quite frankly we have insufficient data on the Carbon Cycle, there are far too many estimates which estimates have wide ranges/uncertainties and we do not yet sufficient understanding of all processes involved.

        All of us are guessing, save that observations from planet Earth seem to be at odds with almost everything that underpins the cAGW hypothesis.

      • Sorry Richard Verney, too many Richards at play here…

        My response was to Richard Courtney, not to you, as we just had a fierce discussion at Jo Nova’s blog…

        The area weighted average temperature of the oceans is in equilibrium with the atmosphere at ~290 ppmv per Henry’s law, no matter if that is static (within a sample vessel) or dynamic (between ocean source and sink places). Currently, the average difference from the atmosphere over the ocean surface is about 7 μatm:
        http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/feel2331/maps.shtml
        Thus in average the ocean is more sink than source…

        The difference in CO2 levels over the oceans is minimal and not more than 10 ppmv between Barrow and the South Pole, including the seasonal variations. That makes less than 3% in CO2 uptake flux.

        For more discussion, my latest work is just published at WUWT (thanks!), need to go there…

      • Ferdinand:

        You laughably assert of me

        As usual, Richard doesn’t know – or ignores – that different processes are at work: some are highly temperature dependent (the biosphere), others far more pressure dependent (oceans).

        As usual, you proclaim irrelevance as a red herring to avoid discussion of empirical data that refutes your mistaken narrative.

        If there were a “half life” of the CO2 in the air then half that pulse would remain in the air at the end of that “half life”, but ALL the pulse was sequestered in less than 3 years by some process or processes of the sinks.

        The fact that the additional pulse of 9.3Gt of additional CO2 emitted to the air was sequestered in less than 3 years demonstrates that the sinks are NOT being overloaded. As I have repeatedly explained to you, the processes of the sinks are not relevant to the fact that IT IS OBSERVED THAT THE SINKS ARE NOT OVERLOADED.

        I got fed up with your waffle, irrelevancies and evasions on the Jo Nova blog when I repeatedly pointed this out to you. And I am offended that you have chosen to do it here, too.

        Richard

      • Richard Courtney:

        If there were a “half life” of the CO2 in the air then half that pulse would remain in the air at the end of that “half life”, but ALL the pulse was sequestered in less than 3 years by some process or processes of the sinks.

        You don’t (want to) see is that the extra uptake was from the Pinatubo, which increased the CO2 uptake independent of temperature or the extra CO2 in the atmosphere.

        The Pinatubo aerosols had their own half life of influence on CO2 uptake.
        Temperature has its own half life of influence on CO2 release and uptake.
        Accumulated human emissions have their own half life of influence on CO2 uptake.

        All three (near) completely independent of each other…

      • Ferdinand:

        My having demolished as being irrelevant your excuse that there are several sink mechanisms, you now introduce the irrelevance of Pinatibo.

        Clearly, your excuses are becoming more desperate.

        I said

        If there were a “half life” of the CO2 in the air then half that pulse would remain in the air at the end of that “half life”, but ALL the pulse was sequestered in less than 3 years by some process or processes of the sinks.

        The fact that the additional pulse of 9.3Gt of additional CO2 emitted to the air was sequestered in less than 3 years demonstrates that the sinks are NOT being overloaded. As I have repeatedly explained to you, the processes of the sinks are not relevant to the fact that IT IS OBSERVED THAT THE SINKS ARE NOT OVERLOADED.

        That is true.

        But you say

        You don’t (want to) see is that the extra uptake was from the Pinatubo, which increased the CO2 uptake independent of temperature or the extra CO2 in the atmosphere.

        The Pinatubo aerosols had their own half life of influence on CO2 uptake.
        Temperature has its own half life of influence on CO2 release and uptake.
        Accumulated human emissions have their own half life of influence on CO2 uptake.

        All three (near) completely independent of each other…

        No, Ferdinand, what you “don’t (want to) see” is that Pinatubo is a volcano and volcanoes emit CO2.

        The half-life of co2

      • Sorry, for some unknown reason my post in reply to Ferdinand’s daft excuse went before I had finished typing. This is the rest of my post.

        The half-life of CO2 in the air is the same for CO2 from human emissions, volcanoes, the oceans or any other source. This is because the sinks have no method to discriminate from where a CO2 molecule entered the air.

        If any ‘pulse’ of additional CO2 is emitted to the air then it has THE half-life of CO2.

        The pulse of CO2 I am citing was ALL sequestered in less than three years. That fact refutes the narrative you like to promote, but it is a fact.

        Richard

      • Richard Courtney:

        The half-life of CO2 in the air is the same for CO2 from human emissions, volcanoes, the oceans or any other source. This is because the sinks have no method to discriminate from where a CO2 molecule entered the air.

        I know, it is to no avail to try to convince you, but for the interested readers:

        – The half life of CO2 in the atmosphere is the same for each process on its own. But different processes have different half life times for any CO2, whatever its source and different saturations.

        The Pinatubo emitted a lot of CO2, but that is not visible in the CO2 increase rate: there was a firm decrease! The cause: light scattering which enhanced photosynthesis and thus more uptake.
        That ended after a few years when most of the stratospheric aerosols dropped out of the stratosphere. A drop of ~2.5 GtC in three years or ~0.8 GtC/year during 3 years.
        In comparison: human emissions at that time were ~6 GtC/year, increase in the atmosphere ~4.5 GtC/year dropping to ~1.5 GtC/year during the Pinatubo eruption.

        Temperature releases and absorbs a lot of CO2 via (tropical) vegetation. That is visible in the huge (El Niño) variations in CO2 rate of change lagging temperature. Sink/source change 8-10 GtC/°C. Maximum 2 GtC/year.
        That ends after 1-3 years, as vegetation is a small, increasing net sink for CO2 with increasing temperatures, currently around 1 GtC/year.

        The oceans are a continuous sink for CO2 as long as the pressure in the atmosphere is above steady state. For the current average ocean surface temperature that is ~290 ppmv. The current sink rate is ~3.5 GtC/year at a pressure difference of 110 μatm (~= ppmv).
        That ends the moment that the CO2 pressure in the atmosphere equals the average CO2 pressure in the oceans.

        As one can see, at least 3 different decay rates / half lives are at work, where 2 of the 3 are limited in time and uptake.
        Richard uses two of them (Pinatubo + vegetation) over a short period to “prove” that the third one (oceans) is not overloaded by human emissions…

      • Ferdinand:

        You write

        As one can see, at least 3 different decay rates / half lives are at work, where 2 of the 3 are limited in time and uptake.
        Richard uses two of them (Pinatubo + vegetation) over a short period to “prove” that the third one (oceans) is not overloaded by human emissions…

        NO and NO!

        I yet again say, the sink process and/or sink processes are NOT relevant.
        And YOU introduced the red herring of Pinatubo, not me.

        I wrote

        About half of the pulse of an additional 9Gt in 1989 – 1991 would have remained in the atmosphere for ~40 years if the “half-life of the surplus CO2 concentration is approximately 40 years”. But ALL of that pulse was sequestered in less than 3 years.

        That is true whatever the processes of the sinks are or may be.</b

        And if the half-life is not 40 years but is X years then about half of the pulse of an additional 9Gt in 1989 – 1991 would have remained in the atmosphere for ~X/2 years.

        The fact that ALL of that pulse was observed to be sequestered in less than 3 years demonstrates that at most the half-life is less than one year and, therefore, it is observed that the sinks are NOT overloaded.

        Your waffle, evasions and irrelevancies do not alter that observational fact.

        Richard

  27. OK, hugely slap-dash experiment but I got a similar (inside an order of magnitude anyway) figure from my CO2 tester in my grassy lawn.
    I simply put the tester under a transparent bucket and watched the CO2 level drop.
    Then, making allowance for the length of growing season (say 6 months round here) and how fast the CO2 is coming out of the dirt under an opaque bucket, I worked out (just for a laugh really) how long it would take for the grass on my lawn to reduce the atmospheric CO2 level to zero.
    I say = 58 years

    I amaze myself sometimes you know I really do. sigh

  28. Salby`s latest research is explained in his lecture this year in Westminster London (March 2015) in which he concludes human influence on climate change is insignificant now on youtube

    • I like is his slow delivery, which gives the listener time to think about what he is saying.

      Presenters often tend to speak too quickly. This is problematic when discussing technical or complex matters since the listener has insufficient time to think upon what has been said, before some new point is being made.

    • Terri,

      I have been in London at his lecture in 2014 in the Parliament buildings and had several remarks, which remained unanswered, partly due to lack of time.

      His main error: integrating the temperature: variability + slope means that the attributes all CO2 increase to temperature, which violates Henry’s law for the solubility of CO2 in seawater and has no answer to where human emissions go. Besides that it violates about a lot of other observations…

      • That could be so IF all other factors remained constant. But there are simply too many variables, and the extent of variability unknown, to conclude that Henry’s law is violated by his views.

      • Richard Verney,

        The observed natural variability is +/- 1.5 ppmv around the trend, hardly visible around the increase of 110 ppmv since 1850, or 80 ppmv since 1958…

        Henry’s law was established in 1803 and since then proven by over 3 millions seawater samples measuring the pCO2 of the oceans. It is around 16 ppmv/°C, not over 100 ppmv/°C if Dr. Salby was right…

        The biosphere is a proven sink for CO2 (from the oxygen balance), thus can’t be the source either…

  29. Did anyone else get warned that the author’s supplemental-information spreadsheet may be dangerous to download?

  30. OK then

    We have it on this thread that CO2 residence time is someplace between 10 years and 40 years. We have some who think mankind-generated CO2 is a large contributor and others who think that natural processes swamp mankind’s contribution. I personally am led to believe that CO2 in the atmosphere comes from plant life on the land areas and from the ~70 percent of the planet called … wait for it … oceans. We also know that plant life loves CO2 over 1200 ppm — ask the people who run plant nurseries.

    The earth would be a much better place for life if it would warm up another several degrees and if CO2 would triple.

    My dear luke-warmer friends, CO2 does not warm the surface of the planet. We need not fear 1200 ppm at all. The James Hansen/IPCC theory of CO2 warming the surface is bogus. This delusion would never have lasted this long if the program for “fixing” the “problem” did not lead to political and monetary gain for the collectivists and all their fellow travelers. (the climate control knob is the sun, oceans, water in all its phases, density of the atmosphere and gravity — it is a weird control knob as it does as it darn well pleases no matter what mankind wants)

    .
    .

    Disclaimer: I have always been an environmentalist. I have always been against government and business fouling the air, land, or waterways. We made great gains towards clean air and water in the 70s.

    good link to read: How AGW isn’t happening in the real Earth system … https://okulaer.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/how-agw-isnt-happening-in-the-real-earth-system/

  31. CO2 residency time, Climate Sensitivity and the ‘pause’ are all to some extent related and dependent upon one another. Obviously, the longer the ‘pause’ continues (and lengthens) the lower Climate Sensitivity (if any at all) must be.

    But likewise the longer the ‘pause’ continues and should the rate of CO2 carry on along its present trajectory, then the more apparent it will become that temperature, and not the rate at which man emits CO2, is the dominant driver of atmospheric CO2 levels. This will lend support to the view that the Bern model is flawed.

    Of course, as Climate Sensitivity (if any at all) comes down, the case for drastic action is weakened, and indeed, so too the need to take steps now.

    If the residency time of CO2 is also less than the IPCC suggests then again, the need to take action now at this stage to avert disaster is also weakened.

    As I see matters, the combined consequence of ever lowering forecasts of Climate sensitivity, coupled to stronger and stronger evidence that CO2 residency time is modest, provides Mankind with the opportunity to step back and do nothing and to allow us to wait and see what is actually happening and to firm up on the data so that we better understand matters.

    The case for urgent action to take mitigation action has been grossly undermined since about 2005, and certainly since Copenhagen. As each year passes, the case for targeted adaption grows ever stronger. Any sensible person would know that Paris 2015 is a waste of time and energy. Climate Change is so patently not the most pressing issue facing the world today, and it would be sensible to kick the can down the road and suggest that everyone reconvenes in 2025. In the meantime, to simply firm up on the collection of quality observational data.

    I am of the firm view that unless the satellite data shows a long lasting step change in temperature coincident with the strong 2015/16 El Nino as was observed coincident with the 1997/8 Super El Nino, then even by 2019 AR6 will prove almost impossible to write since should the satellite data show that the following La Nina restores temperatures back down to about the 2001 to 2003 anomaly level (with 2015/16 showing as a short term blip but not accompanied by a long lasting step change in temperatures), then many papers will be published suggesting Climate sensitivity at no more than 1.3 (and some suggesting an even lower figure), all the model projections will be more than 2 standard deviations from measured observation. To add to that, if the ‘pause’ is by then more than 21 years in duration, it will almost certainly be clearer that temperature is the major driver of CO2 as is suggested by the various plots set out by Bartemis November 24, 2015 at 4:01 pm, and others.

    • richard verney

      But likewise the longer the ‘pause’ continues and should the rate of CO2 carry on along its present trajectory, then the more apparent it will become that temperature, and not the rate at which man emits CO2, is the dominant driver of atmospheric CO2 levels.

      This one doesn’t follow from the observations: temperature is near flat, while increase in the atmosphere is going up unabated, be it more linear nowadays than slightly quadratic it was in the period before…

      See further my plots in my comment below Bartemis…

      • This one doesn’t follow from the observations

        And that is why I said

        the more apparent it will become

        I am not saying that there is definitely causation, especially as we are dealing with short periods when exponential rises can appear linear, I do not know how the future will unfold, and I am extremely cautious at offering predictions as to the future. I am merely speculating that if the red/green variability and similarity as detailed in the plot set out by Bartemis (November 24, 2015 at 4:01 pm) continues for say another 10 years beyond the current end date of the plot, the stronger the view becomes that temperature is the dominant player in all of this.

        Perhaps you might like to comment upon the point I made regarding forest fires (richard verney November 25, 2015 at 2:04 am ), where an existing carbon sink of X capacity (ie., the old forest that is burnt down) is simply being replaced by another carbon sink of about X capacity (ie., the new forest that grows from the ashes) such that every time there is a forest fire it results in an addition burp of CO2 into the atmosphere (equivalent to that released from the burning of the material that comprised the forest), and it is not a carbon neutral event.

        Forest fires are not a carbon neutral events since the before and after carbon sink has broadly the same capacity (studies suggest that mature and young forests have substantially the same sink capacity). It would only be a carbon neutral event if the after carbon sink had a larger capacity than the before carbon sink, and that larger capacity of the after carbon sink equalled the immediate outgassing of CO2 released by the fire event.

      • Ferdinand:

        You yet again ignore reality when it refutes your narrative.
        You say

        richard verney

        But likewise the longer the ‘pause’ continues and should the rate of CO2 carry on along its present trajectory, then the more apparent it will become that temperature, and not the rate at which man emits CO2, is the dominant driver of atmospheric CO2 levels.

        This one doesn’t follow from the observations: temperature is near flat, while increase in the atmosphere is going up unabated, be it more linear nowadays than slightly quadratic it was in the period before…

        See further my plots in my comment below Bartemis…

        Funny how you proclaim “different processes” when it suites your advocacy but not when it refutes the narrative you promote.

        If the temperature changes then processes of the carbon cycle will adjust towards altered equilibria. As I said above

        Basically, the alternative explanation is that something has altered (or is altering) the equilibrium state of the carbon cycle system. Some processes of the system are very slow with rate constants of years and decades. Hence, the system takes decades to fully adjust to a new equilibrium. The human emission may be altering the equilibrium but other factors are more likely; e.g. the temperature rise that has been happening for centuries since the Little Ice Age.

        It is slightly less than two decades since global temperature stopped rising so not all processes will have completed adjusting to a new equilibrium state yet. Hence, atmospheric CO2 would now still be rising.

        The observation that CO2 continues to rise but temperature does not fits with temperature discernibly altering CO2 but does not fit with CO2 discernibly altering temperature.

        Richard

      • Richard Courtney,

        Some processes indeed needs centuries to equilibrate, but the very long term equilibrium is about 16 ppmv/°C over the past 800,000 years, where that ratio is within the ratio’s given in the literature for Henry’s law of the solubility of CO2 in seawater.

        If you have any indication that the ratio is over 100 ppmv/°C, I like to see where that is based on…

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen:

        You again state your misunderstanding of Henry’s Law and refer me to “the literature for Henry’s law of the solubility of CO2 in seawater”.

        I refer you to the excellent explanation of basic ocean chemistry that Michael Hammer recently provided for you on WUWT here. You need to read it and learn from it because it provides a through refutation of your untrue assertions resulting from your misapplications of Henry’s Law.

        Richard

    • Eliza:

      Global sea ice is a terrible metric of ANYTHING. It is worthless, misleading, and un-informative because the reflective heat difference between ice-covered ocean waters is opposite each season:

      When the Antarctic excess sea ice is reflecting the sun’s energy, the Arctic Ocean is dark – and the LOSS of sea ice during every period of darkness or twilight INCREASES the ocean’s heat loss to space. Thus, seven months of the year, less Arctic sea ice means a cooler planet overall.

      When the edge of the Antarctic sea ice is dark for a few weeks each year, the sun’s top-of-atmosphere radiation levels are LESS than when the Antarctic sea ice are highly illuminated, and the Arctic sea ice (which IS being radiated) has a very low albedo – a sea ice albedo nearly the same as that of open ocean water in the afternoons and evenings. Thus, over the entire year, every extra square meter of Antarctic sea ice reflects about 1.7 times the energy that a square meter of exposed Arctic sea ice could absorb.

      Any so-called “scientist” using “global sea ice area” to excuse (or to explain) anything is starting from a position no better than “dead wrong” … and then getting worse.

  32. CO2, Catastrophic AGW, oceans inflation and like, are mere ‘kitten’s cough’ compared to what NASA has just found
    “Earth Might Have Hairy Dark Matter”

    https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/styles/full_width/public/thumbnails/image/pia20176_main.jpg?itok=S4fkZkWn
    This illustration shows Earth surrounded by theoretical filaments of dark matter called “hairs.” NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California NASA/JPL-Caltech
    Whatever happened at climate change conference in Paris, the Earth is doomed. https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/earth-might-have-hairy-dark-matter

  33. I’m concerned that this discussion seems to ignore the carbonate chemistry of the ocean. For instance described here: https://www.princeton.edu/morel/publications/pdfs/eglestonGlobalBio2010.pdf

    My take:

    1. The residence time of atmospheric CO2 is much longer than the 40 years suggested in this thread.
    2. That’s a blessing. When the CO2 stays in the atmosphere it gives plants a chance to respond and bring the carbon into the organic cycle rather than letting it be wasted in inorganic sinks.

    Yes the bomb data shows C14 almost disappear in 40 years after 1966, but that’s to be expected for a trace amount. It would happen even if the ocean was saturated with CO2.

    reference to bomb data on page 55 in this article:
    http://www.ams.org/journals/bull/2015-52-01/S0273-0979-2014-01471-5/S0273-0979-2014-01471-5.pdf

    • Look at the actual data on the amount released, the amount of ppm increase each year, then tell me how 1998 is still the highest year with 2.93 ppm increase?

      • I guess that’s because of El Nino and high SST in 1998. Same reason as Co2 increase some hundred years after ice age. Warmer water first then outgassing. I just think this ocean-sink question involves many complex processes and the discussion doesn’t reflect that. After reading the Halperin paper I must admit I have no strong objections. Maybe he’s right that the “half-time” is 40 years. That’s still longer than the 10 years half-time for C14 in the bomb-curve.

      • I can’t tell how much the ice core samples have been manipulated. I suspect that co2 has a half life of 20 years under current conditions. I also suspect that it is a sliding scale. One of which is the direct conversion of co2 into c and o2, about 5%, about 20 ppm currently. That’s what’s wrong with the current state of climate science. There are so many things. It’s complex and none of it is easy.

  34. I would have thought there would be more data showing a difference between NH and SH concenrations of CO2 in atms, esp. Since vast majority of man-CO2 is generated in NH.?? But no such luck. Me thinks with 70% earths surface being ocean, and CO2 being hundreds times more soluble in it than in air, its a natural water: temperature partial pressure function at play. Hubris of man is overcooked… Just sayin.

      • Macha,

        That is because most of human emissions are at ground level in the NH. While there is a relative fast mixing in the atmosphere, a continuous increase needs time to reach higher altitudes and the other hemisphere. In the latter case, the ITCZ (upwelling air around the equator) only passes 10% air exchange between the hemispheres.
        Thus a full exchange needs time to reach the whole earth. As you can see: some 2 years between Barrow (near sea level) in the High North and the South Pole at ~3000 m height.

  35. Article quotes:

    On the geological timescale, the rise in CO2 concentration tends to follow the temperature rise, concurring with a hypothesis that the latter causes the former.

    Historical data for CO2 concentrations and emissions from 1958–2013 are then used to calculate the half-life of the surplus concentration.

    It is a provable fact that on a non-geological time scale (bi-yearly & yearly) the “latter” (land & ocean temperature) increases also causes the “former” (atmospheric CO2 quantity) increases.

    But the above begs the question of, ….. ”If the surplus CO2 concentrations have a “half-life” residency time of 40 years in the near-surface atmosphere …… does the temperature increase also have the same 40 years “half-life” residency time in the near-surface atmosphere?”

    Of course the answer to the above question is “NO” …… because everyone knows that any near-surface temperature increase attributed to atmospheric CO2 is only here today ….. but gone tonight …… and is neither additive or cumulative from one (1) day to the next or one (1) year to the next.

  36. This issue, above all others, lends itself to sophistry and obfuscation. And both sides in the debate use the same facts to promote their argument.
    The headline is is very disingenuous.
    50% remaining after 40 years matches the low BERN model.
    So after 80 years 25% remains. After 120 years 12.5% remains etc. etc.
    So in 1000 years, some CO2 will remain. Until quantum physics takes over.

  37. Once again we have the problem of unreliable data.
    New satellite data show that the MAGICC molecule is not well mixed.
    Freeman Dyson pointed out a long time ago that the natural production and absorption of CO2 varied from region to region and was not well understood.
    We really do not have the ability to distinguish what molecules of CO2 arrived there naturally, and what ones arrived there by burning fossil fuels.
    I seem to recall that someone did look at a different isotope and determined that its half life in the atmosphere was of the order of 10 years.

  38. So Ari, what’s the implication for your research for IPCC emission scenarios? Does the shorter half life of CO2 mean atmospheric CO2 builds up less rapidly than the scenarios project? Or is it just that atmospheric concentrations do not remain as high as long once global emissions peak and start to decline?

    • The implication for IPCC scenarios are devastating. 1) The CO2 concentrations will not grow as high as IPCC projects; 2) It will be possible to quickly stabilize or even decrease CO2 concentrations in the future, if desirable; 3) All IPCC models belong in the garbage bin, because they use incorrect model for CO2

      BTW, 40 years is a half life of surplus CO2 concentration, not what is said in the title

  39. This is bad news, if true. The impending glacial period is the only climate threat to civilization, and I was sort of hoping some aspects of the pseudo-science from the climate cult was true, e.g. CO2 cancelling the ice age.

  40. First, Ari Halperin, thanks for an interesting article. However, I fear that your linked paper is far from proving your point. While there is widespread agreement that the decay in airborne CO2 is exponential, we can’t yet say which exponential decay is correct.

    The problem is that in the early years (say the first 150 years or so) of increasing CO2, there is very, very little difference between a straight single-exponent exponential decay model such as you discuss, and the multi-exponent exponential decay “Bern Model” favored by the IPCC. This graphic shows the difference in the expected airborne fraction under the two models compared with the actual observed airborne fraction. I’ve used the Law Dome data for the pre-1959 CO2 levels, and the Mauna Loa data after that.

    I’m sure you can see the challenge. At present the models give almost identical answers.

    So while sometime around 2030 or so we will eventually be able to determine which of the two is correct, at present we simply don’t have the data to draw any conclusions as to which model is the better one.

    Given that, I agree with you that a single-exponent decay is best fit with an e-folding time of around forty years. This is also the conclusion given in a paper by Mark Jacobson, the one modeler I pay attention to.

    With that said, however, here in 2015 we simply don’t have enough data conclude that the single-exponent model is preferable to the Bern Model.

    My best to you, thanks for the work,

    w.

    • For folks interested in further reading, I’ve written about the Bern Model in the past …

      The Bern Model Puzzle 2012-05-06

      Although it sounds like the title of an adventure movie like the “Bourne Identity”, the Bern Model is actually a model of the sequestration (removal from the atmosphere) of carbon by natural processes. It allegedly measures how fast CO2 is removed from the atmosphere. The Bern Model is used by…

      My post was responded to in an interesting post by Joe Born entitled “Is The Bern Model Non-Physical?

      Regards to all,

      w.

    • Note also that the IPCC has used several different versions of the Bern Model in succeeding Assessment Reports, with different numbers of parameters and different values for the parameters. They are all similar, however, in predicting a very long-tailed exponential decay of the levels of airborne CO2.

      w.

    • Willis, the trouble with the “Bern model ” is just that; it is a model.

      Nobody has done any experiment to take the atmospheric CO2 down below the 315 ppm level of the 1957/58 IGY ML amount, and observed any long time constant tail suddenly kick in to slow the decay.

      Something in the vicinity of the Hawaiian islands and its surroundings, is capable of removing 6 ppm of CO2 from the atmosphere in five months. In the arctic ocean processes remove 18-20 ppm in that same time (and at that same time).

      The ocean surface, and the atmosphere do not just come to some Henry’s law balance and then just stay there.

      The tropical oceans generally have a temperature gradient that gets colder with depth, at least for some distance.

      That means that the Henry’s law equilibrium concentration of CO2 is lower at depth than is the surface which is in contact with the atmosphere.

      So CO2 can preferentially diffuse from the surface to colder depths, driven by that CO2 concentration gradient.

      So the tropical ocean near surface temperature gradient is a pumping system for continuously depleting the surface layer of CO2 and driving it deeper, and then Henry’s law replenishes the surface from the atmosphere.

      So I don’t see any experimental data for the prompt removal process shutting down and some longer time constant process that nobody has made any observations of, take over.

      I’ve still not heard any good explanation for the 18-20 ppm removal rate over all of the arctic ocean where nothing is growing; except for plankton. I have my own idea on that. Namely the segregation coefficient of CO2 at the ice/water interface, when the sea ice melts.

      g

      • george e. smith November 25, 2015 at 1:56 pm

        Willis, the trouble with the “Bern model ” is just that; it is a model.

        ANY mathematical description of the process is a model. Your objection would remove all math.

        Nobody has done any experiment to take the atmospheric CO2 down below the 315 ppm level of the 1957/58 IGY ML amount, and observed any long time constant tail suddenly kick in to slow the decay.

        So CO2 can preferentially diffuse from the surface to colder depths, driven by that CO2 concentration gradient.

        So the tropical ocean near surface temperature gradient is a pumping system for continuously depleting the surface layer of CO2 and driving it deeper, and then Henry’s law replenishes the surface from the atmosphere.

        So I don’t see any experimental data for the prompt removal process shutting down and some longer time constant process that nobody has made any observations of, take over.

        Here’s how I got involved in this question some years ago, from the reverse side as usual. I looked at the data before I looked at the literature. I got to thinking about how we have reasonably good data for both emissions and atmospheric CO2 levels since maybe 1875 or so. I got the emissions data (including estimates of land-use change) and the CO2 levels, and I used “Solver” in Excel to estimate the time constant. This best fit gives a value of about 40 years for the e-folding time.

        So yes, that is the experimental data, as best as we can measure it. And when I estimated the time constant I got the longer time span of around 40 years. If you have a problem with that process, I suggest that you try it yourself. Please report back with your results, I’d be interested.

        Something in the vicinity of the Hawaiian islands and its surroundings, is capable of removing 6 ppm of CO2 from the atmosphere in five months. In the arctic ocean processes remove 18-20 ppm in that same time (and at that same time).

        While this is true, it is a result of variations in the largest single variable regarding the short-term (less than one year) changes in CO2 levels—the biosphere. When the myriad of green things on land and in the ocean are growing in the spring and summer, they are pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere at a rate of knots, and converting it to leaves and grass and phytoplankton and such. In the fall and winter, things die off and rot, and the rotting releases CO2 and methane (which rapidly converts to CO2).

        And indeed, as you point out, the swing is larger nearer the poles. This is because there is more difference between the summer and winter conditions of the biosphere.

        But this summer-winter fluctuation is net-zero or thereabouts as regards CO2. On average, the CO2 that is fixed by the biosphere in one half of the year equals the CO2 emitted by the biosphere in the other half. As a result, it has little effect on what we are discussing, the longer term evolution of the CO2 levels.

        You could think of it as the biosphere breathing in CO2 over half the year and then exhaling it during the other half. Yes, as you point out there is a lot of CO2 first inhaled and then exhaled over the course of a year. But no matter how deep the breathing is, that doesn’t affect the CO2 levels …

        My regards to you,

        w.

      • @ george e. smith says:

        Something in the vicinity of the Hawaiian islands and its surroundings, is capable of removing 6 ppm of CO2 from the atmosphere in five months. In the arctic ocean processes remove 18-20 ppm in that same time (and at that same time).

        The Hawaiian islands have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the average 6 ppm bi-yearly (6 months) cycling of atmospheric CO2.

        Measurements of atmospheric CO2 are conducted at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, which is located in the Northern Hemisphere @ 19.4795° N latitude.

        The temperature of the ocean waters in the Southern Hemisphere, …. which has the greatest surface area, ….. is the “driver” of the aforesaid average 6 ppm bi-yearly (6 months) “steady & consistent” cycling (ingassing/outgassing) of atmospheric CO2.

        And ps: The only thing in the natural world that is “steady & consistent” is the seasonal cycling of the equinoxes. To wit:

    • Willis,

      Did you read my paper beyond the title? I have not assumed exponential decay. I have derived the CO2 concentration change law from the physics of oceans and biota. Then I used the empirical data from 1958 to verify it and to calculate the half-life. I did not use pre-1958 data because it is disputed.

      As to the Bern model, it is physical nonsense, and I agree with you.

      • Ari Halperin November 25, 2015 at 2:32 pm Edit

        Willis,

        Did you read my paper beyond the title? I have not assumed exponential decay.

        Thanks, Ari, indeed I did read it. My puzzle is what you think that I disagreed with. This is the reason I always ask people to QUOTE MY EXACT WORDS YOU OBJECT TO. For example, I didn’t say you “assumed exponential decay” as you seem to think, so I fear I can’t answer that objection.

        Setting that confusion aside, I greatly doubt that you have “rigorously proven, using first principles and relatively recent observations of oceans”, that CO2 “undergoes exponential decay with a single decay constant”.

        First, it is rarely possible to prove anything in science other than pure math.

        Second, as my graph above shows, we simply don’t have a long enough time-series to distinguish between single-constant and multiple-constant exponential decay.

        All the best,

        w.

  41. I would like to briefly comment on the ‘decay time(s)’. If we look at, for example, the half-life of C14 in the atmosphere, it only shows us how fast this is taken out of the atmosphere by the carbon sinks. But there are different sinks: Some of it will never return (and I don’t mean on geological timescales here) as it may become ocean sediments, for example. If it is taken up by the ocean, small (maybe undetectable amounts) will eventually return to the atmosphere, the same for the biomass on the surface.

    Most of it will dilute into the total carbon pool. BUT: the absorbed C14 will be ‘replaced’ by C12 from decaying biomass. So there is always a large amount of carbon that is recycled. We cannot take the C14 decay time to predict how fast CO2 concentration will drop if we would stop venting CO2 exhaust into the atmosphere. These are two different time constants! I see that a lot of discussions are not clear about this.

    Then regarding the different time constants from various absorption processes, one has to also know their dynamics. It has been pointed out that the shortest time constant is the dominant (1/T = 1/T1 + 1/T2 + …) but it may also be the one that gets saturated the fastest, then the absorption would suddenly follow the next shortest absorption rate and so on. I know of similar but opposite decay processes in phosphorescence, it may have a slow and a fast component. So there the decay is first governed by the fast decay, after that component is exhausted, it follows with the long decay tail.

    Stephan

  42. richard verney November 25, 2015 at 2:04 am

    But my main gripe is the point you make about Forest Fires. As I understand matters, one has an existing forest that is an existing carbon sink and has an ongoing sink capacity of X per year. This forest then burns down and this results in the immediate releases Y amount of CO2 emissions adding to the total level of CO2 in the atmosphere. The forest then regrows thereby once again resulting in a sink. But the material point is that there is little difference in the sink capacity of an existing forest (ie., the one that was in existence prior to the forest fire) and that of one comprised of youthful and growing trees (ie., the regrowing/regrown forest).

    If there is no material difference between the capacity of the sink before the fire and after the fire, then every forest fire simply adds to the total CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

    An interesting question, Richard. Here’s the difficulty. A mature forest is not a carbon sink as you claim. A mature forest is carbon-neutral. Once a forest reaches a certain age, it is dying as fast as it grows, and the rate of decay is equal to the rate of CO2 absorption.

    Best regards,

    w.

    • Willis,

      Just a question:

      Have you considered coal seam fires? Many of them have been burning for decades, and some have burned for hundreds of years. They cannot be extinguished.

      I know they don’t contribute a big percentage of CO2 to the atmosphere (but who really knows?) However, the CO2 they constantly emit can’t be considerd ‘carbon-neutral’ since it’s from coal that has been underground for many millions of years.

      • Thanks, db. There are a variety of natural sources of CO2 additions to the atmosphere, including coal seam fires. My point is that the aggregate of all of them doesn’t seem to change much year over year, or we’d see it in the CO2 records.

        w.

    • Interesting. Only the first citation claims that a mature forest is still accumulating carbon, albeit at a quite slow rate.

      I was sorry that it was paywalled. I can’t even begin to say whether it is valid without having the study in hand.

      In any case, let me amend my statement to say “A mature forest is only a small carbon sink”

      Thanks for schooling me on the question, always more to learn.

      w.

    • @ Willis Eschenbach – November 25, 2015 at 1:22 pm

      An interesting question, Richard. Here’s the difficulty. A mature forest is not a carbon sink as you claim. A mature forest is carbon-neutral. Once a forest reaches a certain age, it is dying as fast as it grows, and the rate of decay is equal to the rate of CO2 absorption.

      Willis, they say “seeing is believing” …… so why don’t you take a “look-see” at the following picture and then tell me which one(s) of those yearly “growth rings” most probably contains the greatest quantity of sequestered CO2. The “growth rings” at the center of the tree or the “growth rings” toward the outside diameter of the tree?

      And don’t be fergettin the fact that the “outer” growth ring extends from the base of the trunk all the way up to the tippity-top of each limb …. and the other growth rings extend upward in accordance with their “year of growth”.

  43. Not even close. Its half-life in the atmosphere is 12 years, based on the annual Northern Hemisphere leaf change record imbedded in the Keeling curve. A similar figure comes from decay of atmospheric carbon-14 after the suspension of atmospheric nuclear tests. in the sixties.

  44. This is what I struggle with. There appears to be no definitive answer. Albeit, answers leaning towards the ~12yr time span. When will “climate scientists” stand up and say “we don’t know”?

  45. Janice Moore quotes Richard Feynman as saying: “The key to science: on finding a new physical law: First, we guess. Then, we perform a calculation to see what are the implications of the guess. And then we compare the result with direct observations. If it disagrees, it’s wrong.” In the language of global warming climatology is Prof. Feynman’s “guess” a “prediction” or is it a “projection”?

    When a distinction is made between a “prediction” and a “projection” in this language, the former is a kind of proposition but the latter is not. A global warming model that makes “predictions” is falsifiable; a global warming model that makes “projections” is not. A model that makes “predictions” conveys information to a policy maker about the outcomes from his/her policy decisions; a model that makes “projections” does not. A model that makes “predictions” supports attempts at controlling Earth’s climate”; a model that makes “projections” does not.

    The IPCC climate models make “projections.” So does the model under review.

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